If there was any rust on the No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GT3 or co-drivers Giancarlo Fisichella and Toni Vilander, it certainly wasn’t visible during the Michelin GT Challenge at VIRginia International Raceway (VIR).
Competing in its first International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race since May’s Advance Auto Parts Sportscar Showdown, the team had a solid weekend at VIR. Fisichella qualified fourth in GT Le Mans (GTLM), driving the class’ only Ferrari, and despite losing a few positions at the start of the race in an opening-lap dustup with John Edwards in the No. 24 BMW Team RLL M6, he methodically worked his way back into the top five and was second before pitting to turn the car over to Vilander for the two-hour, 40-minute race’s middle stint.
Vilander made it to the lead by the end of his stint, with Fisichella taking over to close out the race. Fisichella had a run-in with Jens Klingmann in No. 96 BMW from the GT Daytona (GTD) class in Turn 3 – sending him off course and dropping him from second to sixth in the GTLM running order – but a late flurry of pit stops and on-track incidents among other GTLM front runners enabled the Italian to return to the podium with a third-place result.
“At the start of the race, I was wheel-to-wheel with the BMW, and it pushed me on the gravel, and I lost a position,” Fisichella said. “Afterward, I was struggling a little bit with the tires with moving and graining. Then, the last 20 minutes, the car was back in proper behavior, and I was catching them.”
“Then, the guys did a fantastic job in the pit stop. Toni went out for second and did a brilliant job to keep them behind, so he gave me the car when we were still in second. Then, I was pushing. I was really pushing. I was quick and overlapping the GTD BMW. He opened the door and then when I was overtaking him, he closed the door.
“I locked up because otherwise, I would have hit his car, so I went off. It was a shame because we could have won the race. After that, I was really, really quick. I was catching them. In the end, we finished on the podium, and that’s a good result, but when you get the victory in sight, it’s a little frustrating.”
The result matched their best runs of the season; they also were third in the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona and the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh From Florida. The No. 62 team also earned the bonus point for fastest race lap, as well as winning the race’s DEKRA Green Award.
The Houston-based team dedicated their podium result to flood victims in their home city and state in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.