IMSA News Roundup

Preparation In France Pays Off For Risi Competizione; Legge Beats Goal In Half-Ironman; McAleer, McCumbee Come Up 18 Minutes Short Of Defending ST Crown

Sending its new Ferrari 488 GTE to France for the 24 Hours of Le Mans paid dividends for the Risi Competizione team in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, leading to a GT Le Mans (GTLM) class victory in the season-ending Petit Le Mans presented by Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort.Coming off a podium finish in the GTE Pro class in the French endurance classic not only was a momentum builder for drivers Toni Vilander and Giancarlo Fisichella, but it also set the tone for the remainder of the IMSA season – even though the performance took a little while to show in the race results.“I would say performance-wise the shift was when we shipped the car to Le Mans; then when it came back, it was fast,” Vilander said after the Petit Le Mans victory. “But we ran into a lot of issues, usually contact, and we never gave up. If there was a way to make the car better at the next race, we would do it.”The penultimate round at Circuit of The Americas was a low point of the season, with a season-worst eighth place finish in a race the team dominated.“It was really tough to have an electrical issue in the last few minutes at COTA while we were winning,” Vilander said. “But I told them, ‘We can’t give up, our moment will come. We drive the coolest car in the world, we will eventually get that win we deserve.’”That well-deserved race came at Road Atlanta in the season finale, where Vilander, Fisichella and James Calado steered the No. 62 Ferrari to victory lane. It was Risi Competizione’s fourth victory in the event, with the team winning in 2008 and 2009 in addition to the inaugural event in 1998.“We had a lot of fights with the [Corvette] guys who won the championship, so hopefully next year we’ll be fighting right where we left off,” said Vilander, who joined Fisichella in winning Petit Le Mans for the second time. “This year, we came really close. We didn’t feel sorry for ourselves when we had bad luck – we felt bad for the team.”Legge Beats Target Time In Half-Ironman TriathlonThe weekend before Petit Le Mans, Katherine Legge bested her target time in the recent Ironman 70.3 Augusta triathlon in Augusta, Georgia, breaking her six-hour goal in the event that combines swimming, cycling and running.The driver of the No. 0 Panoz DeltaWing Racing coupe finished 663rd in the field of 2,649 competitors in the 70.3-mile event, placing 32nd in her age group. Legge did the 1.2-mile swim in 34:25; the 56-mile bike in 2:52:06; and the half-marathon (13.1-mile) run in 2:23:28, for a total overall time of 5:56:42.“I learned a lot, for sure,” Legge said. “The swim went really well – I crushed my best time – and I did very well on the bike. But it was nearly 100 degrees, and when I got off the bike and started running, I began to cramp. It was real uncomfortable; I was running through all the sprinklers, and ran most of it with wet feet, which gave me blisters. I think I could have gone 20 minutes quicker on the run.”Legge “high-fived” fellow Prototype competitor Joao Barbosa during the transition from the swim to the bike, and spoke with Ozz Negri following the event.“Overall, I was real pleased with it – I feel it’s a pretty big accomplishment,” she said. “It would be nice to do one with a group of drivers if we can work it in our schedule.”This was her second triathlon. She did a mini-triathlon in Georgia with DeltaWing Racing public relations representative Lucy Smith to prepare for Augusta, where the pair placed 1-2 in the novice category.Although she has followed a strenuous training regimen throughout her racing career, Legge is not doing the triathlons to help her fitness. However, she sees a benefit that will pay off on the race track.“The biggest thing is the ability to remain mentally sharp,” she said. “If you get tired, the first thing that starts to go is your concentration, so that’s where the endurance sports come in. I always rowed and I always ran; this is good endurance training, because you can be in a race car for three hours or more, and you’ve got to have an elevated heart rate for that long to be strong for that long. Racing uses repetitive strength – the same as in a triathlon.”McCumbee, McAleer Come Up 18 Minutes Short Of Defending ST TitleStevan McAleer and Chad McCumbee were in a position to successfully defend their IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge Street Tuner (ST) championship throughout the season-ending Road Atlanta 150.However, with only 18 minutes remaining, the No. 25 Freedom Autosport ModSpace Mazda MX-5 suddenly slowed and retired, allowing Spencer Pumpelly and Nick Galante to claim the title in their race-winning No. 17 RS1 Legistics/ Porsche Cayman.“We had warnings going forward, coming out of pit lane with a couple of stumbles,” McAleer explained. “It’s unfortunate, because Freedom Autosport did a great job all season. But seasons are won and lost, and this is a big loss for us. It’s a tough result, but we’ll see what we can do next season.”McCumbee drove the opening stint with one hand, with his left arm in a cast due to an accident in his garage the week before the race when a car slipped off a jack.“I’m really proud of our guys,” McCumbee said. “It’s been a heck of a year – a dominant year – minus these couple of issues. Unfortunately, it’s part of the game we play.”End Quote:Tommy Milner, No. 4 Corvette Racing Corvette C7.R, GTLM champion: “This year, every year, this class somehow gets more competitive, and this year was even that much more so. Ford came in with a great car, great drivers, and pushed us to the end. A good example of the guys who kept pushing was Risi guys, they got the win and you could see the relief on their faces. That shows how much it means to get a win in this class. This whole year, we can think about all the good memories and moments we had. I’m proud to be a part of this team and represent Chevy and Corvette.”