Houston, Texas (May 21, 2020)
Although the Risi Competizione Ferrari GTE-Pro team was accepted as an entrant for the 88th annual 24 Hours of Le Mans race with its No. 82 Ferrari 488 GTE Evo back in March, announcements got side-lined as the global pandemic struck.
Today Giuseppe Risi confirmed the Houston, Texas-based squad intends to compete on the new postponed dates of September 19-20 at the historic Circuit de la Sarthe in Le Mans, France. Drivers announced at the time of the Risi Competizione entry being accepted included French racing drivers Olivier Pla and Sébastien Bourdais. The third driver has now been announced as Jules Gounon, who competed with the team last year in his inaugural run at Le Mans, creating an all-French line-up for the American team in the beautiful Italian Ferrari 488 GTE-LM entry.
“We were happy to receive the acceptance of our entry for Le Mans once again this year as you can never take this for granted,” said Team Principal Giuseppe Risi. “The world got a little crazy in March so we just sat back and waited to see what would happen. Le Mans is a very important race in the world and the biggest in sports car racing. Although some other teams have pulled out this year, we intend to race as planned. Our all-French driver line-up might be a little unexpected for my Risi team, but these are all talented drivers who have proven their worth at Le Mans and elsewhere in racing. Olivier Pla and Sébastien Bourdais drove against our team in the past few years and they both have strong history at Le Mans and a great knowledge of the circuit. Olivier is a strong and strategic driver. Le Mans is Sébastien’s hometown; he knows the track so well and has had success with past teams. Jules did a good job last year for us, so he was invited back to drive again alongside his fellow Frenchmen. Le Mans is always a very special race for our team and this year is no exception.”
Pla, a 38-year-old from Toulouse, France, has competed at the historic twice-around-the-clock endurance classic 12 times, including the past four years in the Ford GT. He has one podium finish, in 2013, with Oak Racing in the LMP2 class with a second-place finish. In addition to the Le Mans effort with Risi for 2020, Pla is competing in his second year as a factory driver for Mazda Team Joest in the IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car Championship.
Bourdais, age 41, was born in Le Mans, France and is a former class winner at Le Mans in 2016. He has competed 13 times across multiple classes at his hometown race, including LMP1 as a Peugeot factory driver for four years. For 2020 he races in IndyCar with A.J. Foyt Enterprises and in the IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car Championship as an endurance driver.
Jules Gounon, son of former Le Mans winner Jean-Marc Gounon and born in Lyon, France, made his debut at Le Mans with the Risi team last year, where they finished 11th in class. For 2020 he returned as a Bentley factory driver in the Intercontinental GT Challenge series and also competed at the IMSA Rolex 24 At Daytona in the GTD class.
Both Pla and Bourdais will be making their driving debuts with the Houston, Texas-based Ferrari team.
Risi Competizione has competed at Le Mans with 16 entries over the years from 1998-2019 and celebrated three victories and seven podiums. The team’s first win was in its inaugural race and class victory in 1998 in the Ferrari 333SP, and following up with back-to-back victories in the Ferrari 430 GT in 2008 and 2009. The team’s most recent podium came in 2018 in the Ferrari 488 GTE-Am.
“I’m delighted to join Risi Competizione for Le Mans this year,” said Pla. “Giuseppe’s team has an incredible record in the world of endurance racing and in Le Mans history so it’s a special and great opportunity to be able to drive for his team. I’m really looking forward to share the car with Seb and Jules, with the only one target to achieve a very strong result together!”
“Following great success with the Ganassi Team, I am really excited to discover the Ferrari 488, the Risi Competizione team and head back to my hometown to race the 24h once again,” said Bourdais. “Giuseppe contacted me after Daytona, and you could tell right away racing was all that mattered. With Olivier and Jules, we should have a great chance to fight for a class win, which is always exciting.”
“I’m very happy to be back in Le Mans with the iconic Risi Competizione Ferrari team,” said Gounon. “I learned a lot last year during the whole event and I feel more than ready to fight for a top spot this year. I’m proud to be a teammate with super fast drivers, Sébastien and Olivier, and I believe that we have a strong package to try to bring back another GT class victory to Giuseppe Risi and all his team.”
Risi Competizione will return to Le Mans with Michelin tires as it seeks to add another victory at the Circuit de la Sarthe this year.
For race information, please visit lemans.org.