Risi Competizione’s Matteo Malucelli has returned to action in the team’s rebuilt Ferrari F458 Italia chassis this week at Sebring, and already is back on the pace.
The team rebuilt the car after its accident at the Rolex 24 at Daytona. Malucelli completed laps in a shakedown on Saturday.
In TUDOR United SportsCar Championship first practice this morning, he set the fastest time in the GT Le Mans class at 1:59.394.
“Compared to Saturday when we tested, it feels very different,” Malucelli told Sportscar365. “It feels very slippery. I think we have to wait for more grip to come into the car.”
He’s also readjusting back to the Risi Ferrari after testing for Krohn Racing at February’s Winter Test. The Krohn F458 is a year-old spec, so it made for some slight differences when back in his usual No. 62 car.
“It’s pretty similar although there all the aero there is 2012,” he said. “That car has less speed on the straight with more drag. But it had a little bit more downforce. Slower on straights, faster in slow corners. Otherwise very similar.”
Overall, Malucelli just feels relieved to restart Risi’s championship charge this race.
“It was just tough at Daytona knowing we lost the chance to fight to win the race,” he said.
“I was lucky, because the crash was huge. So we’re restarting from this point, with a rebuilt chassis completely. Rebuilt engine, rebuilt car. And we can do maybe better than last year where we finished second.”
Malucelli co-drives with Giancarlo Fisichella and 2013 FIA World Endurance Championship GTE-Pro Drivers’ Champion Gianmaria Bruni, who also won the GT class pole at Sebring last year for Risi.