IMSA Spotlight: Rick Mayer
Chief Race Engineer/Technical Director: Risi Competizione
What was it like to be back on the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship grid after the team’s hiatus?
“We have a very competitive team; an entire group of true racers. The team has been waiting somewhat impatiently to be back in competition. Racing is a passion for the entire team, so no one sees it as just a job.”
What did the team do to stay sharp during the layoff?
“We have some customer GT cars that we support as well as the Ferrari Challenge program. The crew is constantly working on pit stop wheel changes at the shop to stay sharp. This never stops.
“I don’t think we lost anything in that regard at VIR. The team was able to get right back to where we were from Le Mans with no relearning or other issues related to not racing. It’s like we never stopped.”
How did your result stack up to your expectations for the return?
“VIR has been a good venue for the Ferrari and Risi in the past. We went in with an optimistic attitude. We obviously have no championship concerns to taint our approach to the event.
“The goal was a podium and hopefully a win. Playing safe for points was not remotely on our radar. I think we made the correct choices on strategy and car setup. We had a car capable of winning the way the race played out at the end. A podium is a good start for our return.”
What goals do you have for the remaining races this season?
“Our only goal is to fight for wins without risking the car. Again, championship points are not a concern. Our competitors have to consider what finishing position they need to achieve regarding championships, whether it be manufacturer, team or driver. Just to finish is not our goal.
“If we’re in a race position where we can only win if we make a certain strategy call, we will take that risk. A podium is rewarding for the team and Ferrari but, there is no difference between fourth and last when you’re not concerned about points. We can make more aggressive choices regarding car setup and strategy as we have only one goal.”
Given the team’s Texas roots and the effects of Hurricane Harvey on the region, do you feel like you are representing the state when you are at the race track?
“Yes, particularly with the shop located in downtown Houston. The shop, crew, dealership employees, their families and the majority of the dealership customers are right in the middle of the flooding.
“We proudly waved the Texas flag on the grid at VIR and carried Texas decals in the race. We hope everyone in Texas recover quickly from this catastrophe.”