Risi-Krohn Ferrari Team Ready to Challenge Sebring The No. 61 Risi-Krohn Ferrari 430GT, prepared by Risi Competizione, is ready to challenge the 56th running of the 12 Hours of Sebring. The Ferrari will be driven by Krohn Racing team...
Risi-Krohn Ferrari Team Ready to Challenge Sebring
The No. 61 Risi-Krohn Ferrari 430GT, prepared by Risi Competizione, is ready to challenge the 56th running of the 12 Hours of Sebring. The Ferrari will be driven by Krohn Racing team owner/driver Tracy W. Krohn, along with teammates Nic Jonsson and Eric van de Poele. The legendary Sebring, Florida-based race is the inaugural event of the 2008 American Le Mans Series (ALMS), scheduled for March 12-15.
Krohn Racing and Risi Competizione, both of Houston, Texas, have paired again in 2008 to field a Ferrari 430 GT in the GT2 class for Sebring and the LMGT2 class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Last year the Risi-Krohn Ferrari team participated in four of the ALMS races, collecting three Top-10 finishes, and a remarkable second-place finish at the internationally renowned 24 Hours of Le Mans race.
The No. 61 Krohn-Risi Ferrari adds a two-time Sebring winner to its driver line-up with sports car endurance legend Eric van de Poele. Van de Poele won in both 1995 and 1996, including finishing first- and third-place in the 1995 running in the popular Ferrari 333 SP. Eric, a four-time 24 Hours of Spa winner, three-time class winner at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, winner of Petit Le Mans and former Formula One driver, joined Krohn Racing at the beginning of the 2008 season. He also to co-drives with Tracy Krohn in the Krohn Racing Pontiac Lola in the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series. The Krohn Racing two-car team finished fourth and seventh in the prestigious 24 Hours of Daytona race in January. Additionally, van de Poele teams with Krohn and Jonsson for both Sebring and Le Mans.
The Risi-Krohn Ferrari team has high hopes as they come to Sebring ready to battle an intense class field. The sister Risi Competizione Ferrari 430 GT of Mika Salo, Jaime Melo and Gianmaria Bruni are poised to reprise their door handle-to-door handle fight to the finish with Porsche in search of a repeat of the ALMS GT2 Team and Driver Championships in 2008.
TRACY W. KROHN, Krohn Racing Team Owner, Risi-Krohn Ferrari Driver: Sebring has a reputation for being one of the toughest races on the U.S. circuit yet you keep coming back. What is it that makes the 12 Hours of Sebring race so special, so unique and so difficult?
"Sebring is one of the most classic "flat tracks" in the world. There are several surface changes, hard braking zones, high-speed turns, and quick transitions. It is a very technical track. It is also a very bumpy track! The car tends to go airborne several times a lap due to the bumps. It is a physically challenging track and I am undoubtedly sore at the end of this race. It feels more like a 36-hour race!! The crowds are always in a "party" mood so it's fun to come race at Sebring. There's lots of history, pomp and circumstance, and a world class list of competitors. Every racer wants to win at Sebring!"
NIC JONSSON, Risi-Krohn Ferrari Driver: Sebring has a reputation for being one of the toughest races on the U.S. circuit yet you keep coming back. What is it that makes the 12 Hours of Sebring race so special, so unique and so difficult?
"There are a few different things that make it difficult â^a" first of all, there are a lot of different pavement changes. There are a lot of concrete patches, along with asphalt. It goes from asphalt to concrete, back to asphalt in a fraction of a second. The grip level on concrete versus asphalt is very different, so you always have to compromise set-up. You can't really take a traditional line when driving through a corner on a race track like you usually do. On top of that, Sebring has this history of being very bumpy. The organizers don't want to repave the place, saying that is part of the history and uniqueness of Sebringâ^a¦to have the bumps in Turn 17, 1 and 13. I can agree, but it is also very tough on the equipment. We are running 12 hours instead of 24 in Le Mans. I think that is why you see so many new teams planning to go to Le Mans that come to Sebring every year. You probably put more stress on your equipment during the 12 Hours at Sebring than you do at the 24-hour event at Le Mans because the Le Mans track is so much smoother. I think that is one of the biggest things, when the pavement changes, how bumpy and rough the track is on the equipment and driver. The day after driving at Sebring you can feel the body aches from all the bumps and shaking around."
ERIC VAN DE POELE, Risi-Krohn Ferrari Driver: You are a two-time winner at Sebring. It has a reputation for being one of the toughest races on the U.S. circuit, yet you keep coming back. What is it that makes the 12 Hours of Sebring race so special, so unique and so difficult?
"First of all, the layout of the track is such that you don't have much time to relax. It's quite bumpy, although much better than the past, but it is still very demanding. It is also a very narrow track and you can't make any mistakes. You must be very aware of traffic. A little mistake and you can be in the gravel or if you lose the car, you can be in the wall, because the wall is very close. All these things make for the fact that you have to have 12 hours of very disciplined driving. Every time I got to Sebring, everyone says it is an endurance race, but it is always like a sprint race for the 12 hours. That is why it makes for being the hardest race. It is very humid and often warm and sometimes rain, so it is really a difficult race. For me it is much more difficult, for example, than Le Mans. For 12 hours, you give all you can.
I believe no average drivers and teams can win at Sebring because it is very demanding mechanically, and it's quite high downforce and this track for prototypes. For me, it is a new experience this year in GT2 because I have to be aware of the prototype cars, which are quicker than us. This is an experience I have to get accustomed to and I must be very careful, but I like the challenge."
What does it take to win Sebring?
"Sebring is so demanding for everything. I believe also it is physically the hardest. You need to be very fit and have a good staff around you. It could be very warm, so from a driver's point of view, it is very hard. It's always very hard mechanically. I think it is the best test for the teams before going to Le Mans. Sebring is usually the race that the good teams and the good factories decide to do before Le Mans. It is so hard to win a race there, but so fantastic!
I won with a Ferrari in 1995 â^a" finished first and third â^a" both with Team Scandia in the Ferrari 333 SP. Jeff Braun, our engineer on the Krohn Grand-Am Pontiac Lola was my engineer then. I had to radio to ask if I could pass my car. I didn't know if I could pass him or if I needed to stay behind. It was very strange. Also, on the podium, I remember I was with Michelle Alboreto on one car and with Fermin Velez and Andy Evans on the other. I was embarrassed. I didn't want to leave Michelle alone on the third step, but I wanted to be on the first step too. It was a funny situation. I have incredible memories at Sebring. I will never forget that. It was so hard with the Ferrari and on the old track."
JEFF HAZELL, Krohn Racing: Talk about the success of the pairing of Krohn and Risi and looking forward to 2008.
"One of the most important ingredients and qualities in a racing organization is continuity and building upon a strong foundation. Krohn Racing and Risi have incorporated those qualities into the program for 2008. The groups work well together and enjoyed success last season. This year we are better prepared for Sebring's challenges, we have more experience in our driver line-up with Eric joining the Krohn Racing car. Eric has also driven with Risi Competizione in the past and that will help. We feel like an experienced and well-bonded team. I think it is a really, powerful group and with a good results at Le Mans and Daytona for Tracy, Nic and Eric we have the confidence, experience and patience in the cockpit to achieve a strong finish.
Talk about the competition and new teams at Sebring for this year.
There are some new competitors with undoubtedly good experience in long distance racing and they will be hard to beat. And then there are some new competitors with new equipment who have to beat themselves first of all -- in the way we all do when we have got new cars and new programs. There are probably only one or two teams that we expect could get in front of us and several new teams who I think will struggle to make the end of the race. New teams and more manufacturers represented. It's good for the series and the fans. It demonstrates the importance that manufactures place on sports car racing, and the continued enthusiasm of the private teams prepared to go it alone. Of real note is the return of BMW; they have been missed.