Laguna Seca: Krohn Racing preview

Round Five of the 2008 Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series is held in one of the favorite locales on the Rolex Series circuit, Monterey, California at the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, for the RumBum.com 250 race on Saturday, May 17th. Krohn...

Round Five of the 2008 Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series is held in one of the favorite locales on the Rolex Series circuit, Monterey, California at the Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, for the RumBum.com 250 race on Saturday, May 17th.

Krohn Racinghas continued to develop the new Proto-Auto Lola car, which will compete in their fourth race of the season this weekend. Owner/driver Tracy W. Krohn and teammate Eric van de Poele will drive the No. 75 Krohn Racing Pontiac Lola, while Nic Jonsson and Ricardo Zonta will compete in the No. 76 Krohn Racing Pontiac Lola.

The Krohn Racing team, now in its third year, is currently fifth (No. 76) and tenth (No. 75) in the Daytona Prototype points chase after four of 14 races this season. Jonsson and Zonta have a podium finish, a third-place at Mexico City, and a fourth-place finish in the season opening Rolex 24 At Daytona. Krohn and van de Poele have two Top 10 finishes so far this year, a seventh-place finish at the Rolex 24 and 10th at Mexico City.

Tracy W. Krohn, team owner/driver, No. 75 Krohn Racing Pontiac Lola:

You've driven at Laguna Seca numerous times, what do you like about the circuit?

"Laguna is always a great place to race and the track is always fun. The climate is good. Laguna Seca is a very competitive circuit. The track changes from dawn to dusk, so it is always challenging getting the car set-up. The most important factor is getting the car set-up for the race, especially with the new Proto-Auto Lola. Qualifying is not nearly as important to us."

What are your thoughts on the chances for another podium this weekend?

"We've had some success at this track with a podium finish in 2006. Last year the Daytona Prototype cars ran alone, without the GT cars, so the entire dynamic of the race changes with that structure. Even though we have a new car still in development, we've already achieved a podium finish this year at Mexico City. Between the combined classes and the new Lola this year, which seems to favor a high downforce circuit, we are fairly optimistic for a good run this weekend."

Eric van de Poele, driver, No. 75 Krohn Racing Pontiac Lola: Tell us about your past driving experiences at Laguna Seca and what you like about the circuit?

"I have driven a lot at Laguna Seca, including in 1994 with IMSA GTO with Nissan 300 ZX, where I got the fastest lap in the race and finished on the podium. I raced in 1997 in two races in one weekend; one was the Riley sports car with Wayne Taylor and the second race was the FIA GT race with Lista. I also drove in there with the Ferrari 333 SP and the Riley & Scott Judd. It is already a long time ago but it seems like yesterday. There are many things I like about the circuit. Of course, the layout of the race track is beautiful. It's not a very fast race track, but it's quite interesting because you have quite different corners -- left and right and up and down. It's quite tricky! It is especially tricky in the rain. I had a fantastic race in the rain in 1998, so I would love to have some rain! All around it is a fantastic place, especially when you add in Carmel and Monterey. It is always a pleasure to be over there.

I am just looking forward to go there and see some old California friends who helped me to recover after my accident at Le Mans. That will be very nice because it's been a long time since I've seen him. I also want to tell the fans and racing community that I have one of my 2007 helmets on my website to sell for an auction to benefit an association that helps very young homeless kids, who are two, three and four years old and on the streets in Egypt. It is an organization in Belgium that tries to help them find a family and a good, stable place to live. This information is on my website, www.ericvandepoele.com (see Latest News on Home page), and my helmet is on sale on Ebay for a few more days if anyone wants to make a donation bid."

After three sprint races, how do you find the competition in Grand-Am this year?

"I enjoyed the last race very much, even though it was not easy for us. We had a very good beginning of the race but then it was tough. I found generally the competitors quite fair. Of course, it's very, very competitive and very tough. Even if it is a two hour and 45 minute race, we need to be fast paced and good, even in the pits. We can't have any mistakes. It is an interesting point of the championship. It you make mistakes and still win, it is not very satisfying at the end of the race. You really need to deserve it."

Nic Jonsson, driver, No. 76 Krohn Racing Pontiac Lola:

What do you like about the Laguna circuit?

"Laguna Seca is one of the most famous circuit in the world, I think, because it has the famous corkscrew. It's a challenging track. It's a very low grip so you're always fighting to find as much grip as possible. The configuration itself, I think is very much a driver's track. I really like it. The low grip is more difficult though and you never get the car good there. You get the car as good as possible and then drive around it. We've been successful there before with Krohn Racing and others. I'm really optimistic and I'm looking forward to driving at Laguna."

What's happened with the car since VIR?

"I have to say we've done a lot of testing since the last test at VIR and we feel that we've made some progress. We haven't made any huge leaps, but we're certainly starting to narrow the gap down from where we have been to where we need to be. The guys have done a fantastic job again between testing and trying to make the car faster and more reliable. Hopefully we won't have any glitches this weekend and have a nice, strong run again."

After three sprint races, how do you find the competition in Grand-Am this year?

"I think the competition has gotten stronger and stronger every year since they started running. This year is probably the most competitive line-up they've had in Daytona Prototypes and also in GT. A lot of races we drive as a combined race and that makes it even more difficult to get by some of the fast GT car as well. Obviously, we have a new car this weekend with Christiano da Matta and Jimmy Vasser with Bob Stallings Racing. It looks like another really fast and competitive car. The competition, I believe, is the toughest in any sports car racing in the world today. It's a privilege to be a part of the Grand-Am Rolex Series with Krohn Racing and to be out there competing against the best in the world."

Ricardo Zonta, driver, No. 76 Krohn Racing Pontiac Lola:

Tell us about your past driving experiences at Laguna Seca and what you like about the circuit?

"I raced last time at Laguna Seca in 1998 in the GT Mercedes. I also drove a Formula One car at Laguna in 2006 for a lap record. I like the circuit because it is up and down and has quite nice corners. Of course, it is too bumpy, but quite good anyway and has some medium speed corners as well. I think it's quite fun."

How do you think the new Proto-Auto Lola will perform at that circuit?

"I hope it goes well. Of course, we were expecting to go quick at VIR, but it was not as fast as we wanted and quite difficult for us. VIR was supposed to be one of the best tracks for us. It's quite difficult to imagine if the Lola will go quicker in Laguna. We are going to try to make the car quick and do well there."

After three sprint races, how do you find the competition in Grand-Am this year?

"It's really good. The drivers in the Grand-Am are very strong drivers. It's quite fun to race because you have to push very hard all the time, every lap on the limit. So, it's very fun."

-credit: kr

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