Risi Competizione steps back to GTE Am for 2018 Le Mans 24 Hours
|By Gary Watkins||Thursday, January 25th 2018, 16:55 GMT|
Three-time Le Mans 24 Hours class winner Risi Competizione will drop down to the GTE Am class for its entry in the World Endurance Championship centrepiece this year.
Risi has confirmed it has no plans to field a Ferrari in GTE Pro in 2018 and will instead link up with US driver/entrant Ben Keating to run a 488 GTE under the Keating Motorsports banner.
Keating has decided to team up with Risi after landing one of the two automatic Le Mans invitations awarded at the discretion of the organisers of the IMSA SportsCar Championship.
The American, who competes in IMSA with a Mercedes-AMG GT3 run by Riley Motorsports said: "I'm a car dealer from Texas, working mostly out of Houston, and it just so happens that Giuseppe Risi is a car dealer from Houston.
"I race a Mercedes in IMSA, which is not an option for GTE, so it is a good match up to partner with Risi."
Jeroen Bleekemolen, a race winner in IMSA's GT Daytona class last season, will be the platinum driver in the Risi-run Keating Ferrari at Le Mans.
The third driver alongside Keating and Bleekemolen, who have raced together at Le Mans for the past three years, will be announced at a later date.
Risi technical boss Rick Mayer explained that the team, which finished a close second in GTE Pro at Le Mans in 2016, would not be returning in the premier GT class for "financial reasons".
He said it was undecided whether the Le Mans entry would be made using the Ferrari with which Risi is contesting a limited IMSA programme this year or one of its other chassis.
Risi has worked with privateers at Le Mans in the past: it ran US privateer Tracy Krohn's entries in 2007-10 (pictured above), notching a pair of podium finishes in GT2.
The second of the automatic Le Mans entries that can be awarded by IMSA has gone to the JDC-Miller Motorsports prototype class team, which claimed a pair of mid-season IMSA podiums last year with its ORECA-Gibson 07.