Risi Competizione has announced the signing of experienced German racer Pierre Kaffer for the 2009 American Le Mans Series.
Kaffer will partner Jaime Melo in the team's #62 Ferrari 430 for the season ahead while Risi regular Mika Salo will also return for the endurance events over the course of the season as he schedule allows.
“We believe in continuity,” team principal Giuseppe Risi said. “But we also believe in change. Jaime Melo has been with us since we started racing the 430GT—as has Mika Salo. Jaime will be with us at every race and Mika will make his considerable talents known as his schedule allows.
“Change this year comes in the form of Pierre Kaffer, a very dynamic young driver, who shares driving responsibilities with Jaime for the ALMS Season. This is a very talented driving line-up and we like the mix of continuity and change.”
Kaffer himself said he was thrilled to get the chance to join the former GT2 champions and said he was looking forward to working with Melo and the Ferrari during the year ahead.
“I'm really looking forward to joining Risi Competizione and to returning to the ALMS,” he said. “It's been a long time since I was with such a strong team and a strong team-mate, and that means of course we can fight for the championship. The last time I was in Sebring, I was able to win the race and, for sure, this season we will have the possibility to win as well.
“I really like the Ferrari 430, it suits my driving style more than the Porsche – I feel like we are one when I am in the car. Even from the first shakedown test, I have a very good feeling about the season and my new 'home' – I like the way it feels like one family and that everyone is pulling in the same direction. Jaime and I have discovered we match well together; we are the same height, fit in exactly the same seat, and don't have to adjust the seat belts, so it makes things easier...it's not so often you have a 100 per cent match.”
After a difficult season in 2008, the team will look to return to form again in 2009 but team boss Risi admitted that the level of competition in the GT2 class will rise to a new level.
“Every year, the competition in GT2 improves,” he said. “This year, we are facing a renewed effort on the part of the Porsche teams, a renaissance at Panoz, the new BMW team fielded by Rahal/Letterman, and, later in the season, the arrival of the GT2 Corvette factory team.
“GT2 racing is where the serious competition meets in ALMS,” he continues. “But we are a serious team and no one in racing is more committed to excellence than Ferrari.”