Fisichella: Calm before the storm at Petit Le Mans

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The Petit Le Mans in Atlanta Georgia is a terrific race…there’s really no other way to describe it. It has a cast of characters as long as your arm. If you are a Formula 1 fan and haven’t been following sports car racing lately, these character may be new to you. Drivers in the Le Mans and American Le Mans series are professionals who drive very well and handle some of the toughest tracks in the world. The talent and skill on this weekends Petit Le Mans grid is terrific but there is one man, other than former F1 driver Allan McNish, that you may recognize.

Giancarlo Fisichella is no stranger to many F1 fans world-wide. He is a fan favorite within the ranks of F1 and is rapidly becoming a fan favorite here in the ALMS series as a driver for Risi Competizione Ferrari. Teamed with another former F1 driver, Mika Salo, Fisichella is looking forward to this weekends race:

“It’s a good track.  I had a chance to drive Saturday and Sunday in testing.  Saturday was a full day and I did enough laps to learn the track and now I feel confident and comfortable here.  Today has been a very good day for us, we are second quickest and, considering the amount of laps on the tires when I drove, I was the quickest of the three of us so I am very happy with that.  The car looks good, has a good balance and I’m looking forward to the rest of the weekend.
 
“It’s a very challenging track, especially the first part of the circuit with a lot of high speed corners.  It’s going to be difficult I’m sure on Saturday with the traffic, but it’s going to be an interesting race to follow for sure.”

I have to be honest, it’s a delightful image to see Fisichella, in classic Roman form, sitting on the pit wall watching the process. It is devoid of the F1 pageantry and maybe that’s what’s so compelling about it. He is a F1 transplant who seems as comfortable as he has ever been and as a fan, you wonder if “Fisi” isn’t a peace with his surroundings and more apt to enjoy his life behind the wheel.

The team look fiercely competitive this weekend for the championship and what a fitting way to say farewell the Ferrari 430. The team have a storied history with the F430, since its introduction in 2006, achieving 19 ALMS victories, two Le Mans GT2 titles and four Championships. With Fisichella at the wheel, relaxed, at ease with the calm surroundings, it may just net a championship for the Scuderia…except this Scuderia is not based in Maranello but in Houston Texas and this Roman driver is looking as competitive as he ever has.

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