Risi Competizione has confirmed all three drivers for the 24 Hours of Le Mans 2020.
The Italian-American Ferrari team announced Olivier Pla and Sebastien Bourdais as their drivers earlier in the year, but they have completed the line-up with Jules Gounon, who also raced for them last year.
They had a collaboration with the French Ferrari dealer in 2019, which made the car not run in the traditional Risi (and Ferrari) red, but in blue. The graphics following the announcement of the drivers for this year’s race, have a red car painted on it – but the blue car last year, was only announced a few days prior to the event, so we might see something similar this year.
Risi Competizione will be the 7th car, and only non-FIA WEC car, in the GTE Pro category. The first entry list had 11 cars in the category, but both Corvette Racing and Porsche North America pulled out, so they could stay home and focus on the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. They will be racing two weeks prior to Le Mans, and the weekend following the French race. That, combined with the uncertainty about potential travel restrictions surrounding the COVID-19 situation, has made the teams stay in the USA.
It is however almost two months since Risi Competizione confirmed to Racing24-7.net, that they still would be competing in the French race, with them only having Daytona, Sebring and Le Mans on the 2020 schedule. Daytona was in January, Le Mans will be in September and Sebring has been moved from March to November – so there is plenty of time for the car to be shipped from Houston to Le Mans, and back again.
Olivier Pla has been racing for Ford Chip Ganassi Racing in the FIA WEC for the four past seasons, but the team closed down after the 2018/19 season. This will be his 13th Le Mans, so let’s hope that neither he nor the teams are superstitious. His best result at Le Mans so far is a second place in the LMP2 category in 2013, alongside Alex Brundle and David Heinemeier Hansson.
Sebastien Bourdais is ready for his 14th Le Mans. It’s been twenty-one years since he made his debut in the race, and the local racer was synonymous with Pescarolo for many years – another team based in Le Mans. There were however some years, where he couldn’t compete at the race due to date clashes with Champ Car/Indycar. He was back at Le Mans in 2016 with Ford Chip Ganassi Racing, claiming the class victory with Joey Hand and Dirk Müller. He didn’t compete in the 2017 edition, since he had a massive accident in the qualifying for the Indy500, leaving him unable to race for several months while being in rehabilitation. He was back in both 2018 and 2019. Despite being on the podium five times, he only has a single class victory – but his LMP1/LMP900 years was of course during the height of Audi dominance, so that resulted in three 2nd places for the Peugeot team.
Jules Gounon had his Le Mans debut last year but was already an ADAC GT Masters Champion, and 24 Hours of Spa winner. He already has a 2020 race victory on his CV, after winning the Bathurst 12 Hours in February.
The Risi Competizione team can soon celebrate 25 years in racing. They started racing in 1997 with the Ferrari 333SP model, claiming the Le Mans class victory in 1998, before moving into the GT categories in the future years with the 360, 430 and 488 models. They race a Maserati MC12 in the American Le Mans Series in 2005 but returned to Ferrari the year after.
Their racing programme has been scaled down quite a bit during the latter years. They only did Daytona, Le Mans and Petit Le Mans in 2019, but did still finish second at Daytona, and winning Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta. The Le Mans race was quite a disappointment for them, since they were hit by technical difficulties, resulting in them in finishing many laps down in 11th position in GTE Pro.
The 2020 edition of the 24 Hours of Le Mans will be run on 19-20 September.