Toni Vilander Speeds For Risi Competizione

Toni Vilander put the Risi Competizione Ferrari on the GT Le Mans pole for the Petit Le Mans. (IMSA Photo)

BRASELTON, Ga. – It’s been an up-and-down season for Risi Competizione in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, but the team will look to go out on a high note after scoring the pole Friday for the season-ending Motul Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta.

Toni Vilander grabbed the top spot from the Ford of Richard Westbrook with six minutes remaining in the 15-minute session, and bested his own lap three minutes later for a pole-winning time of one minute, 17.660 seconds (117.743 mph). It was the second consecutive pole for the No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTE team. Vilander will be joined by co-drivers Giancarlo Fisichella and Alessandro Pier Guidi this weekend.

“Every time we come back to this track the car gets better and better,” said Vilander, who has two victories at Motul Petit Le Mans. “I feel like I can get even more out of the car. I’m happy for the Risi crew and I’m really looking forward to the race tomorrow.”

Risi Competizione started the 2017 season with back-to-back podium finishes at the Rolex 24 At Daytona and the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, but then suffered a trio of on-track accidents at Long Beach, Circuit of The Americas and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. After a four-race hiatus, the team returned to VIRginia International Raceway and placed third, and followed that up with a second place finish at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca two weeks ago.

The Motul Petit Le Mans is the perfect race for the team to go out on a high note. Risi Competizione has entered Motul Petit Le Mans 23 times in 16 years with four victories, 10 podium finishes and six poles.

The points-leading No. 3 Corvette Racing Corvette C7.R of Antonio Garcia qualified second, moving up following a post-qualifying ride height infraction for the No. 67 Ford GT of Westbrook.

In GT Daytona, a driver with only six career IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship starts went head-to-head with one of IMSA’s most decorated drivers in qualifying Friday for the Motul Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta.

In the end, it was the Ferrari of Matteo Cressoni who edged out the Acura of Andy Lally with three minutes remaining in the 15-minute GT Daytona class qualifying session to score his first TOTAL Pole Award.

Cressoni lapped the 2.54-mile circuit in one minute, 20.661 seconds (113.361 mph) for the pole-winning lap in the No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3. He last competed with Scuderia Corsa at Watkins Glen in June, finishing second alongside co-drivers and current points leaders Christina Nielsen and Alessandro Balzan as a third driver for the WeatherTech Championship’s four Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup events.

“You know, we didn’t know until today [we’d be so fast],” said Cressoni. “What can I say? The car was fantastic and the team did an amazing job. I want to say thanks to the team, and this guy [Alessandro Balzan], my teammate who helped me yesterday to get me some laps in the car and get used to it and this track. Now we focus on the race to go tomorrow.”

The driver Cressoni edged for the TOTAL Pole Award is no stranger to victory lane with 34 career wins, but Lally typically does not typically qualify for the Michael Shank Racing w/ Curb-Agajanian team and has just one pole in the WeatherTech Championship.

He was in position to make the most of the opportunity, but was nipped for the pole by .078 of a second. He made one last run at the pole on his final lap, but went off track.

Jack Hawksworth qualified third in the No. 15 Lexus RC F GT3 with six different manufacturers making up the top six spots in the session.