Ligier-Judd looking to improve on season-opening fourth.
The No. 40 Krohn Racing Ligier JS P2-Judd is bound for the Autodromo Enzo and Dino Ferrari circuit in Imola, Italy, near Bologna, this week for Round Two of the 2015 FIA European Le Mans Series (ELMS) race, the 4 Hours of Imola, May 16-17.
After a good first round at the 4 Hours of Silverstone, where team owner/driver Tracy W. Krohn and co-drivers, Swede Nic Jonsson and Brazilian Oswaldo (Ozz) Negri, Jr. finished fourth in their inaugural ELMS outing, the drivers and team are optimistically positive about the challenging LMP2 class.
Krohn and Jonsson previously competed at the 3.050-mile/4.909 km circuit in 2011 with the Krohn Racing Ferrari 430 to a seventh-place finish in the GTE-Am class with Italian co-driver Michele Rugolo in the International Le Mans Cup series (ILMC), the predecessor to the FIA World Endurance Championship. This weekend will be Negri's first appearance at the historic Italian circuit.
TRACY W. KROHN, Krohn Racing Team Owner/Driver: Now that you've raced in one of the ELMS events and know more what to expect this second round, what do you think about the series? And what about the LMP2 class?
"We had a few set up issues with the car at Silverstone, which probably kept us from having a better result. We believe we will resolve all that for Imola. The series is extremely competitive and we need to really step up our game to get to the podium."
What do like about the Imola Circuit and what are its challenges?
"Imola reminds me a lot of Road Atlanta, so I feel fairly comfortable about being in the LMP2 there. It is a fairly narrow track with lots of elevation change. It will be interesting to see how bumpy or not bumpy the track will be in the LMP2 as opposed to the Ferrari 458. In the Ferrari it was not an issue, but we felt the same way about Silverstone, only to find that the track was quite bumpy with the set up we had going in with the LMP2."
NIC JONSSON, Krohn Racing, Driver: You were at Imola with Krohn Racing back in 2011, tell us what you like about this circuit and what do you feel are its challenges?
"This is another one of those 'older' designed circuits that has all the elements a proper track should have with high speed straights leading in to a hard braking zone and passing opportunity. It has some challenging left-right hand combinations that you really have to be on the ragged edge to be fast, along with hairpins that allow you to challenge other cars and drivers in the braking zone. I really like the elevation at this circuit since several of the corners have braking downhill and even with the car already loaded this makes it a very difficult, but a great challenge. From a set up perspective as well, it provides driver challenges."
How did you feel adding Ozz to the driver line-up and how are you improving upon it?
"I think we are very fortunate to have had the opportunity to add such a professional and world class driver as Ozz to the Krohn Racing driver line up for the ELMS season. Even though we've never been teammates before we have known each other for a long time and raced against one another for over 20 years in different championships across the globe. Since Ozz drives a Ligier JSP2 car full-time in the IMSA TUDOR Championship he knows the car and all of its nuances. The only difference between the two cars are the tires we run in ELMS in different than in IMSA. Other than that, we need to work to improve on the usual stuff, such as driver changes and making sure we find a compromise ergonomically so everyone fits properly. We're making improvements and we feel very good about it all."
You had a strong showing at Silverstone. Did you find the ELMS series and the LMP2 class what you were expecting?
"We had a good start to the season with a fourth-place finish at Silverstone. We had our fair share of challenges throughout the weekend, which may not reflect on the results, but it was not an easy week for us at Krohn Racing. We knew it was going to be a professionally operated series with many good, first-class teams, but, I have to admit, the competition is even fiercer than I would have expected. this is especially true with more cars that are very close and competitive than expected, but that makes it even more motivating and challenging and it will bring the best out of all of us at Krohn Racing."
OSWALDO NEGRI, JR., Krohn Racing, Driver: How have you been preparing for this upcoming race at Imola, Italy?
"Because I've never been there, I'm trying to get as well prepared as possible. I've been watching a lot of videos and I'm using the simulator. Imola has a lot of history, and for us Brazilians, not a good one. Obviously, it's a place where we lost our star Brazilian driver, Ayrton Senna. It's a place that, since I was young, I always heard of and read about it and I'm look forward to going there. I think at Silverstone we learned a lot, especially me, because the whole procedure in the European Le Mans Series is so much different than what it is in the U.S. There was a lot to take in during a short amount of time. I look forward to getting back to the ELMS with the knowledge learned in the first race. I think we're going to have a much better car there also. So, my expectations are, if it's a mistake or not, I always shoot for high expectations. I prefer to be confident and think positive than to just think about going there to make numbers. I know the competition is pretty strong. An ELMS team won the 6 Hours of Spa, beating out all the WEC teams which raises the bar and that's a good thing, I think, because it draws the best out of everybody, as drivers and a team. I always like to be measured against the best."
Having completed one ELMS race, how do you feel about the trio of Krohn drivers this season?
"I think it was awesome. Nic is phenomenal, so is Tracy. They made me feel at home. The best thing in an endurance race when you share a car with other drivers, is what you want out of the car and all three of us wanted exactly the same thing. I know if Nic is driving and he's looking for something set up wise it will benefit me, and so it will with Tracy. The fact that he's been with Tracy for a long time helps too. He knows him very well and knows how to help him and so on. We are good friends so the kind of engagement is pretty seamless. I got to know the team personnel and got along with them well. They were great with me and I thank them for that. I was very impressed with the operations and I think it's one of the most professional teams, for sure."
Two practice sessions are scheduled for Saturday, May 16 and the 20-minute qualifying session for the LMP2 class will take place Sunday morning, May 17, at 10:30 a.m. local time (4:30 a.m. EDT). The 4 Hours of Silverstone ELMS race runs Sunday, May 17 from 2:00 - 6:00 p.m. local time (8:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. EDT).
The ELMS schedule continues with the following races: Red Bull Ring, Austria, July 11-12; Paul Ricard, France, September 5-6; and Estoril, Portugal, October 17-18. Krohn Racing will also be competing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in Le Mans, France on June 13-14.