Jeff Giangrande – On Taking On The C6.Rs
And The MC12

dailysportscar.comThird at Mid-Ohio, third at Lime Rock Park – is there a sequence developing here? ACEMCO team owner Jeff Giangrande certainly hopes not, because he’s still going all out to take on – and to try to beat - the Corvettes in the ALMS. He’s fully aware of the size of that task, but takes considerable satisfaction from Monday’s podium, just ahead of the (factory) Maserati.

“That’s the third time we’ve beaten the MC12 in four starts – and we did it from the back this time,” says the team owner.

Apparently some glue in the airbox had cracked, and although the big V8 showed every sign of being about to stall (post qualifying), it just wouldn’t.

So a start from the back of the grid – and it turned out to be a one-stop race for the Saleen.

“15 or 20 minutes after Johnny got in the car, I asked our strategist if we had enough fuel to go through to the end. I’ve been quoted already as saying that I’d rather have the car stalled out on the course than finish fourth, so we left Johnny out there. It was really exciting at the end. Johnny made a really good defensive move at turn 1 on the last lap, and by the time he passed a couple of Porsches, that was third place secure.”

That was a typical Giangrande decision – to take the chance, to try for the podium, and maybe risk everything.

“I’m doing this because of the racing. We were all pumped up because we were going for that third place, and we were racing hard – against a factory car. I’m glad that Maserati is here. It’s improving the whole show, and it made the end of our race.”

dailysportscar.comOne question Jeff Giangrande is frequently asked by fans at the track is ‘why aren’t you beating the Corvettes?’ He knows why, and after that performance at Le Mans, we know why too, don’t we?

“They are so good and so strong. The Corvette team is the best in the world. They would have won at Sebring but for a brake disc and some contact, and you saw what a fight they put up at Le Mans. But they’re not just good, they’re also lucky.”

And here we have the answer that Johnny Mowlem wasn’t sure of – although he was in the car at the time. How did the #3 Corvette finish second at Lime Rock, even after its off-course excursion?

“They caught a lucky break: they got a wave by, and that gained them back a full lap.”

The reasonable conclusion would be that without that Corvette break, the Saleen would have split the C6.Rs.

“There’s no doubt that the Corvettes set the standard,” suggests Jeff Giangrande. “You have to continually improve if you want to take them on, and that’s what we’re doing.”

In the meantime, even if the Saleen doesn’t split or beat the Corvettes, there’s still considerable satisfaction to be had from beating the Maserati.

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“It’s the factory Maserati we’re racing against. In the FIA Championship, they’re run by private teams, but this one, although Risi does the logistics, it’s looked after by factory mechanics. They’re flown in from Italy.”

Neither of these two ALMS GT1 contenders (ACEMCO and Maserati Corse) were represented at Le Mans of course – ACEMCO having withdrawn because of the rear wing rule for 2005.

“But the ACO has given us back the bigger wing now,” comments Jeff Giangrande. “We had it back in the ALMS, then the FIA did the same – and now the ACO has given anyone racing a Saleen in Europe the larger wing again.”

The irony isn’t lost on the team owner – that he could have been a part of that GT1 scrap at Le Mans. He would have liked that – racing hard against the two best teams in the GT1 world.

 

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