Risi Competizione is fully prepared for its GTE-Pro return at the 24 Hours of Le Mans according to technical director Rick Mayer, who says they will take a similar approach to recent years, despite the class change.
The Houston-based squad will enter a Ferrari 488 GTE in the top GT class for the first time since 2017, after having served as the operations partner for Keating Motorsports in GTE-Am last year.
While stepping back into GTE-Pro, which sees a 17-car entry this year, Mayer believes the team’s tight-knit nature and continuity will pay dividends, despite arguably facing the strongest competition yet from all-factory entries.
“The prep won’t be different than what we did with Keating last year,” Mayer told Sportscar365. “We do everything the same way.
“When you do a big race like Le Mans and it’s a one-off, if you have a core crew that you’re taking. In our case, it’s 99 percent our core crew.
“We’ve done Le Mans enough that we have a real good feel of what needs to be done and the timing.”
As was the case in 2016, Mayer said they will likely debut a brand-new Ferrari chassis in the race, instead of shipping one of its current 488 GTEs from the U.S.
The car, owned by a team sponsor, is set to remain in Europe post-Le Mans.
Other forms of logistics are set to remain relatively unchanged, with the team set to again rent a transporter and utilize Sonic Tools in Europe through its partnership with the company.
“We’re on it early, so the stuff we’ll need to ship over there, it will be the same as last year, we’ll throw it on a boat and get it over there,” Mayer said.
Risi will be one of six U.S.-based teams confirmed for this year’s race, joining Ford Chip Ganassi Racing, CORE autosport, Corvette Racing, Scuderia Corsa and the joint Riley/Ganassi GTE-Am effort from Keating Motorsports.
Risi Finalizing Driver Lineup
Despite Pierre Kaffer and Stephane Ortelli appearing on the provisional entry list, the team has yet to finalize the lineup for the race.
A number of drivers, including former Audi LMP1 factory star Benoit Treluyer and Daytona and Sebring winner Pipo Derani, are understood to be in the mix.
Mayer indicated that a final decision will not likely come until closer to the driver nomination deadline in early April.
“It’s a very unique deal,” he said. “It depends on what Giuseppe and Ferrari wants to do.”
It’s believed that longtime Risi driver Toni Vilander will likely be placed with WeatherTech Racing’s effort in GTE-Am, with fellow factory drivers Miguel Molina, Davide Rigon and James Calado already confirmed in AF Corse’s season-long FIA World Endurance Championship entries.