Risi Competizione’s LMP2 squad is operated “about 50/50” by crew members from the American team and a largely British group led by Formula E team manager Gary Holland.
The renowned GT outfit is making its prototype racing return at this weekend’s 6 Hours of Monza with an Oreca 07 Gibson driven by Felipe Nasr, Oliver Jarvis and Ryan Cullen.
The entry is a preview to its maiden LMP2 outing at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and its first appearance in the event’s prototype ranks since 1998 when it ran a Ferrari 333 SP.
Risi’s LMP2 team is headed up by Holland, who works for Dragon/Penske Autosport in the ABB FIA Formula E World Championship and was previously the LMP2 team manager for JOTA when the British squad finished second overall at Le Mans in 2017.
Holland explained that the operation is based at Silverstone but contains some regular Risi crew members. Experienced race engineer Rick Mayer is not involved, with ex-United Autosports and Starworks engineer Andrew Sayer working in that position.
James Goodfield, who has been a single-seater engineer with Carlin, is the LMP2 performance engineer at Risi Competizione for Monza and Le Mans.
The No. 82 Risi Oreca is owned by one of Cullen’s sponsors and has followed the Irish driver to a handful of different teams since its production early last year.
Team owner Giuseppe Risi is not on-site at Monza but is expected to join the mixed group for Le Mans on August 21-22.
“We’ve got a bit of a split, about 50/50,” said Holland.
“The car is U.K.-based and we’ve got some of the core guys from Risi bolstered with some guys from the U.K. [Many are freelance] because of the single-event nature of here and Le Mans.
“Any program going forward would be more single events as opposed to a full entry. We’re trying to gauge where we are against the competition first.
“Giuseppe has got a great heritage and, firstly, we need to not let that down. The car is based in the U.K. It makes no sense shipping it to the U.S, so it makes sense logistically to have more of a 50/50 split.
“Given the prototype nature of it, as opposed to GT, a lot of the previous Risi engineering doesn’t really translate across.”
Risi Competizione has completed two tests ahead of its LMP2 debut, at Aragon with all three of its drivers and at Silverstone last week with Cullen and Jarvis taking turns.
“We’ve had an endurance test which was 30 hours at Aragon, with Glickenhaus,” said Holland. “We had more of a shakedown than a test at Silverstone GP, which was good.
“Other than that, it’s been fairly limited. We’ve been tooling up. That’s been the main focus. The car is a relatively known quantity.”
Despite the limited testing time, Cullen is confident that Risi Competizione will show up with a competitive package at Monza.
The Oreca 07 chassis ran at Le Mans in 2020 under the G-Drive Racing by Algarve banner, with Jarvis and Nick Tandy joining Cullen in the driver lineup.
It also contested ELMS rounds at Paul Ricard and Spa under DragonSpeed’s wing, before spending the latter months of the year with JOTA which took it to a Goodyear tire test.
“Things have been going great,” said Cullen. “Some people have been at Risi before, but it’s pretty much an all-new team.
“We went to Aragon and the car seemed to be good straight away. We’ve only been running the low-downforce kit because we wanted to get on with it for the WEC regulations.
“The shakedown at Silverstone was good. We had mixed conditions so it was good to feel the car in the wet. No massive issues, it was just a chilled-out test really.
“We did seat fittings and the livery went on after that, so it was just a final preparation before coming here. But we pretty much found out everything that we needed to find out at Aragon.”
Holland indicated that Risi is taking a measured approach to its first LMP2 race, but is nonetheless optimistic about its potential in the WEC’s second-tier prototype class.
“We want to be competitive,” he said. “We’ve had a very steep learning curve. We’re not going to come into the weekend and make claims about putting it on pole and being P1.
“We just want to show competitiveness going forward and give ourselves a marker for Le Mans.”