Michele Rugolo qualified the No. 57 Krohn Racing Ferrari F458 second on the grid in the GTE-Am class for tomorrow’s World Endurance Championship 6 Hours of Fuji race.
Rugolo’s time of 1:41.701 was only bettered by Jean-Philippe Belloc in the No. 70 Larbre Corvette with a time of 1:41.386 to take the GTE-Am pole.
Extra track time and good weather conditions have allowed the popular green-and-blue Ferrari team to secure what they feel is a good set-up for Sunday’s race.
Following qualifying on Saturday, team owner/driver Tracy W. Krohn, along with teammates Jönsson and Rugolo, introduced their Ferrari to a small group of local Japanese school children.
Mr. Krohn spoke to them about the importance of math and science in business and racing and encouraged them to study.
The garage tour included an opportunity to witness driver change practice, be up close to the race car, and take photos and a reward of being allowed to sit in the driver’s seat of the 465-horsepower Ferrari F458.
Gulf Racing Middle East driver Keiko Ihara organized the tour for the school children who expressed an interest in seeing a Ferrari race car.
TRACY W. KROHN, Team Owner/Driver No. 57 Krohn Racing Ferrari F458 GTE-Am: “It’s been quite an eventful last couple of weeks for us because we were racing in Bahrain and now we’re here at Fuji Speedway in Japan.
I think so far things have gone pretty well. We went a little bit backwards yesterday on set up and we recovered this morning. Our car is much better today than it was yesterday. We worked on a little bit of rear grip issues that we had so I the car is actually quite good right now.
I think for the race we have got what we need in the car. Michele did an excellent job in qualifying. Unfortunately, at Turn 3 some of the cars were throwing up some dirt on the track, which I think inhibited his ability to qualify higher…perhaps even on the pole.
He’s nearly on the pole anyway though. I’m very pleased with his performance and I’m very pleased with the team’s performance.”
NIC JONSSON, Driver, No. 57 Krohn Racing Ferrari F458 GTE-Am: “We’ve been working on the set-up all week here at Fuji and we’ve been able to improve the car every session.
Qualifying second for tomorrow’s race I think is a great effort from the entire team and Michele. It’s a good starting position to be right up there on the front row.
I’m looking forward to having a really good, clean race tomorrow and hopefully we can get the first win for Krohn Racing tomorrow.
The circuit at Fuji has a lot of different combination of corners. It has fast sweeping corners, hard braking zones but more than anything the last part of the track has a lot of stop-and-go and first gear corners.
I think the race is going to be a lot about conserving your tires and tire management to keep the rears on the car more than anything because if you start losing traction and can’t get off the corner, you are going to lose so much time and get driven by on the straightaway.
I think that is going to be key tomorrow – to look after your tires at the first part of the stint.”
MICHELE RUGOLO, Driver, No. 57 Krohn Racing Ferrari F458 GTE-Am: “Qualifying was okay. We knew that the Corvette was very quick, but we are not really off the pace. Three-tenths is not so bad and we are also very close to the GTE-Pro drivers.
We are one and a half second off the pole position of the Pro cars, so that’s pretty good. I think the car is going to be consistent in the race. It’s not very difficult to drive. We were just discussing how everything at Fuji is very well organized.
They are really appreciating the race here so they are very welcoming. I think this is important for WEC. We are racing at all very new circuits where they are putting a lot of effort to make this championship grow so it’s very good.”
DAVID BROWN, Team Manager/Race Engineer, Krohn Racing: “We participated in test day on Wednesday, in which we did 770 kilometers and accumulated a lot of laps and rotated all the drivers. We got a good baseline set-up.
We spent yesterday and this morning in practice fine tuning the set-up. We think we’ve got quite a good baseline race car now. Michele qualified the car and we were P2, which is obviously not P1 that we wanted to be.
The car is competitive and it looks like we have a good race car. There’s a 40% chance of rain tomorrow so all sorts of exciting and interesting things could happen, especially if it rains during the race, having not run here at all in the rain.
I’m sure it will be a very action-packed and eventful race, hopefully culminating in us being at the top of the podium.”
“Michelin have provided us with a good range of tire compounds here. We have spent the last few days evaluating the compounds for their suitability for both the race and qualifying and we think we have the right tires for the conditions.
If it rains, we have two sorts of wet tires and that covers the range of that could face us if it’s wet.”
JEFF HAZELL, Krohn Racing Motorsport Manager: “It’s good to see so many fans here for Saturday’s practice and qualifying. We are hoping that next year we will have more practice time on Saturday for the fans and the revision of the qualifying method so that there are more cars on track for the whole qualifying session to give the fans more value.
Presently the qualifying regulations very much restrict us to running a few laps on qualifying tires as we have to keep them for the start of the race. We would be happy to be on track for two or three hours of practice on Saturday and I’m sure the fans would want to see this.”