Qualifying for the 66th Annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts took place Friday at Sebring International Raceway in Sebring, Florida. Brit James Calado qualified the No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari on the front row in the GTLM class in the second position on the grid for Saturday's twice-around-the-clock historic endurance race.
Paired with Calado are Finn Toni Vilander and Italian Alessandro Pier Guidi in the popular red Ferrari 488 from Houston, Texas. The Risi Ferrari drivers and crew have been pleased with the progress this week with good times in all four practice sessions and a comfortable driving car.
The No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTLM, sponsored by Effex Management Solutions, is one of nine GTLM cars in the 43-car Sebring field for Round 2 in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race. They have three victories at Sebring, in 2007, 2009, 2010, and five additional podium finishes, including third place last year with Vilander, Calado and Giancarlo Fisichella.
James Calado, driver No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTLM:
"It was a surprising qualification because I expected it to be a lot worse to be honest. We've got a brilliant car setup, which is the main reason we did so well. Alessandro made some changes before the qualifying and we found a lot more grip in the rear and then we compensated it with the front as well. So, we found a really good setup, which is positive. We're half a tenth away from the pole, which is disappointing, but at the same time it was one of the best laps I've done. So, I'm very pleased. It puts us in good standing for tomorrow.
It's forecasted for warmer weather, which is fine. It seems like this morning we struggled in the cold conditions, so the hotter it gets maybe the better for us, which is unusual. I used to think it was the other way around. I'm looking forward to the race. With traffic it's always difficult, but we don't have PC cars this year, which was always troublesome to pass. It should be a little bit easier, but there's fierce competition at the front of the GT field and it's important we stay out of trouble, look after the car and see where we end up."
Rick Mayer, Risi Competizione Race Engineer:
"We made some gains through the week in the setup. Toni only did the Sebring advance test days and James and Alessandro got up to speed very quickly because they're the best two co-drivers you can have. We made a couple small changes for qualifying and James did the best he could when the tires were at their optimum and we came up a little bit short for pole. We're really happy with the qualifying though and we're pleased that we have a good race car.
The weather was cold at the beginning of the week but the temperature is increasing. It's going to be much hotter race day than any other day this week and hopefully that falls in the temperature range of the tires we prefer to use, and we'll do well tomorrow. Track conditions changed appreciably throughout the event week. The temperatures came up, the track rubbered in. From the morning to the evening, the middle part of the race, is not going to be good for us on race day, but we have the car setup for the last three hours and I think we should be competitive as long as we're in the hunt for the win at the end."
The 12-hour race starts at 10:40 a.m. local time on Saturday, March 17.