Mexico City: Krohn Racing preview

Krohn Racing Ready for Challenges At Autodromo Hermanos Rodrigues in Mexico City The Krohn Racing team is heading south of the border, ready for the challenges of the 2.5-mile, 14-turn race circuit for the Mexico City 250. The 250-mile or ...

Krohn Racing Ready for Challenges At Autodromo Hermanos Rodrigues in Mexico City

The Krohn Racing team is heading south of the border, ready for the challenges of the 2.5-mile, 14-turn race circuit for the Mexico City 250. The 250-mile or two-hour and forty-five minute race is Round 3 of 14 of the 2008 Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series. The No. 75 Krohn Racing entry will feature team owner/driver Tracy W. Krohn and sports car endurance ace Eric van de Poele. The No. 76 entry pilots are Nic Jonsson and former Formula One driver Ricardo Zonta.

The Krohn Racing team has finished in second-place each of the past two years at Autodromo Hermanos Rodrigues, and also captured a pole position in 2007 by Colin Braun. This year they bring their new Proto-Auto Lola Pontiacs, fresh from their debut at Homestead. After acquiring needed racing data in their inaugural outing, the Krohn race engineers and crew have made improvements and feel ready to tackle the Mexico City circuit with a somewhat different car from their debut.

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

How do you like the Mexico City circuit? "I always enjoy racing in Mexico City. Our team has had good success there. We've enjoyed the spray of champagne the past two years. It is a challenging and interesting track with the sweeping turns and long straights. The fans are really great and it is fun as a driver to have so many enthusiastic sports car fans coming out to cheer on the drivers and teams. We love it!"

Regarding competing at the Mexico City Grand-Am race with the new Proto-Auto Lolas: "We are optimistic about competing at more of a road circuit with the new Proto-Auto Lolas. We debuted the cars at Homestead, which was not as conducive of a circuit for these cars. We learned a lot, gathered quite a bit of data and David (Brown) and the other engineers and the crew have worked hard to translate the data into realistic improvements."

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

Homestead was the Proto-Auto Lola chassis debut and the team made some progress. What do you see for Mexico City with the new Lola? "I think we made big strides in right direction at Homestead, especially for the race. I think we finally have the mechanical and aerodynamic packages we wanted. I feel Mexico City should be a better track for the Proto-Auto Lola. It's a higher downforce track with all the twitchy corners on the infield and you have a couple of really hard braking zones. I feel we have not quite gotten as much testing in as we would like. In the regulations we can't do that and it's the same for everyone else. The only difference is the Krohn Racing (Lola) and the SunTrust and Doran (Dallara) team have brand new cars versus the Riley, Coyote and Crawford that have been competing for several years. I believe we have a very strong engineering department within the Krohn Racing organization who are making strides in the right direction on a daily basis. I know we have more development going on between Homestead and the Mexico City race. I couldn't be more excited about going down to Mexico with the new car. From everything I've seen in the past there and with how good we normally prepare the car for there, plus add in the new Lola, I feel we should be very strong."

What is the competition like this year? "I feel that the competition has increased yet again within the Grand-Am Rolex Series. Not just in Daytona Prototypes, but also in the GT series. Since we race together combined both DP and GT classes most of the time, it actually effects us. I think the competition overall has really increased this year. In the Prototype class, I think you see from one year to another a stronger driver line-up, stronger engineering and crews and a much bigger commitment in general from teams, drivers and sponsors. I feel the Grand-Am Rolex Series has become the premier sports car series in the world. You have drivers from South America, drivers from all over Europe, drivers from North America -- basically drivers from across the globe. They are also not just any driver but some of the best drivers in different categories of racing -- Formula One, Formula 3000 to Indy Car racing to NASCAR racing. It's a great mix and an honor to represent Krohn Racing because I feel we have a very strong organization at Krohn Racing. It's a great opportunity for me and the other drivers to be a part of that and to be able to develop this new Lola. I have a lot of respect for many of the competitors. At the same time I believe that we have one of the best teams and cars out there. I can't wait for the season to unfold and I hope we'll have a very successful year."

Eric van de Poele, driver, No. 75 Krohn Racing Pontiac Lola: Homestead was the Proto-Auto Lola chassis debut and the team made some progress. What do you see for Mexico City with the new Lola? "Despite the fact that I felt slow onto and down the straight, Icould finally knowthe real potential of the Lola. I could also learn about the team and the Rolex Series in this kind of race (short) and have this complicity with Tracy, my teammate, and Jeff Braun, my engineer. It is very promising. I can tell you that itwill not betoo long before we join the guys at the front, even though the competition is really strong."

Have you ever race at the Mexico City circuit and if so, how do you like it? If not, what have you heard about it? "I drove there twice in Formula One (1991-1992). At that time the race track was really bumpy. I know that now it has been resurfaced. Concerning the layout, I have to say that it is a real challenging track. I cannot wait to be there. There are many quick change of directions and a very fast last corners. I love that!"

What is the competition like this year in Grand-Am? "The competition is very strong and very interesting with the new cars in development. Also, I am learning the drivers and I can tell you that the season will be very exciting, with very good, fair battles. The only regret I have after Homestead, is the number of "yellows". Of course it is sometimes necessary, but we are big boys and we can manage a yellow in a corner without risks for the marshals. It is very bad for TV, for the spectators and for the drivers."

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

Homestead was the Proto-Auto Lola chassis debut and the team made some progress. What do you see for Mexico City with the new Lola? "I think Mexico City will be a lot better for us. At tracks like Mexico City and VIR we are expecting to have a good performance. At Homestead we did a lot of work on the aero, trying to improve. I think everything looks a lot more positive for the next race."

Have you ever race at the Mexico City circuit and if so, how do you like it? "I have never been to the Mexico City circuit yet so I don't know it. I saw the layout and some output from the race last year. I think the way to learn it is walking the track one day before the practice."

What is the competition like this year in Grand-Am? "I am really motivated about the Grand-Am Series. A lot is going on. The times are very close in the sessions and also in the race. So many things are happening in the race because of the GT cars. For me it's good motivation for racing."

David Brown, Team Manager, Krohn Racing:

Homestead was the Proto-Auto Lola chassis debut and the team made some progress. What do you see for Mexico City and is that track more conducive to the new Lola than Homestead was? "Mexico City is certainly a track with completely different characteristics to Homestead and a place at which we have not tested. Therefore, we have mixed feelings approaching the race. It's a step into the unknown since we haven't been there with this car, but we did race there very competitively last year, so we have good information regarding set-up from the car from last year and we look forward to it because it is a different track. Whether it will suit us or not, I would like to answer after practice. It's a challenge for everybody. It is such a different place. With the altitude, the temperature, the long straight, the fact we've never been there with these tires before, nor has anybody else, it's a challenge. Ricardo has not raced it before so it will be a bit of a voyage of discovery for him. It will be very dirty to begin practice with so the beginning of practice will be very difficult to gain any knowledge. It's always a good event. Last year there were no yellows whatsoever because of the nature of the track. It may be like that again this year. Of course, last year there was no 45-minute rule, and there was no 30-minute rule, whereas this year this is. Things are a bit different from that point of view as well."

Can you tell us about other tests or improvements you have made or are doing with the Lola between Homestead and Mexico City? "The car is going to be different. We highlighted several issues prior to and, particularly, during the race weekend at Homestead, which we dealt with in certain degrees of temporary fashion during the race weekend. Since Homestead, we've managed to do a more permanent job of some of the fixes that we created and also some improvements. So, the car will not be the same. We think it will be better. We gained some further information just having raced the car the first time. There's nothing like getting out and racing a car to find out where its weaknesses lie and that has enabled us to shine a more focused light on which areas we need to concentrate on. Overall, we think we'll come out a stronger team as a result of the race at Homestead."

Team owner/driver Tracy W. Krohn created Proto-Auto LLC with Lola Cars one year ago to build a Daytona Prototype chassis for Grand-Am competition for 2008 and beyond. The new car began testing in December of 2007 and made its race debut at Homestead in late-March.

The Krohn Racing 2-car team finished fourth (No. 76 with Jonsson, Zonta and Darren Turner) and seventh (No. 75 with Krohn, van de Poele and Oliver Gavin) in last year's the Pontiac Rileys at the Rolex 24 At Daytona in Grand-Am's season opener in January. They finished 12th and 11th, respectively, with the two-driver pairing at Homestead in the new Pontiac Lolas.

The Mexico City 250 will be televised live on SPEED TV at 4:00 p.m. ET on Saturday, April 19th. For more information, please see www.grand-am.com and www.krohnracing.net.

-credit: kr

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Ricardo Zonta , Darren Turner , Eric van de Poele , Colin Braun , Oliver Gavin , David Brown , Nic Jonsson
Teams Krohn Racing