Krohn Racing Ready for VIR Grand-Am Race Krohn Racing heads to VIRginia International Raceway this week for the Bosch Engineering 250 on April 25th, the second race of the 2009 Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series season. The popular green-and-blue...
Krohn Racing Ready for VIR Grand-Am Race
Krohn Racing heads to VIRginia International Raceway this week for the Bosch Engineering 250 on April 25th, the second race of the 2009 Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series season. The popular green-and-blue liveried team will only bring a single Krohn Racing Ford Lola, as team owner/driver Tracy W. Krohn, along with teammate Eric van de Poele, sit out the event due to business opportunities of Krohn's primary gas and oil business, W & T Offshore (WTI -- NYSE).The driver line-up in the No. 76 entry is the usual pairing of Nic Jonsson and former Formula One star Ricardo Zonta. Jonsson and Zonta teammed last season to a record of two podium, six Top 5 and nine Top 10 finishes. Additionally, Zonta claimed one pole position and one fastest lap record.
TRACY W. KROHN, Team Owner/Driver Krohn Racing:
You are cutting back your racing this year and have gone to a one-car team. Please share with us a little about that decision.
"The first thing to understand is that it is because of business opportunity. Right now, we think that with lower prices and the fact that my company, W&T Offshore (WTI -- NYSE) has cash and has liquidity, we see this as an opportune time to be out buying properties and making deals. We think this will set us up for the next decade. That's our opinion and we think that we will grow the company and make it much stronger than it already is. That part of it is why I am stepping out of the car -- because that is my primary expertise...in the oil and gas business. And now is a good time to be out making things happen. So that's the reason that I stepped out of the car, not because I want to quit racing or anything. Certainly I will miss it, but on the other hand, this will put us in the position to race for a long time."
Tell us about the testing schedule and what improvements have been made on the cars since last year at VIR.
"Certainly the car is better. There are a number of different improvements we have made technically with the car. It's hard to point at just one thing and say this is the biggest difference we have made. It is a hundred things, not just one thing. It takes awhile to develop a car. It takes patience and testing and expertise. That's really the difference. We've had test time so we understand what the car does in different conditions. Our expectation would be that we would be quicker. The issue is -- how much quicker is everybody else? That is like it always is."
NIC JONSSON, Driver, No. 76 Krohn Racing Ford Lola:
This is the first race as a one-car team. How will things be different for you and Ricardo?
"It's obviously always a challenge when you go from two cars to one car from a set-up standpoint. Having two cars is a big benefit in a team. Now we are going to get everything done on the No. 76 car between Ricardo, David (Brown -- Engineer) and me. We are going to have Simon (Marshall) along as an engineer on the same engineering staff as well and expect that to be beneficial to us. Although initially it is different for everybody, I know we are going to manage and really stay focused on the task of winning races and making a run for the championship...not just for Tracy as an owner, but for the whole Krohn Racing team. We are really going after it."
Tracy has business opportunities that have pulled him away from the cockpit this weekend and most of the rest of the year. How will that make things different for you and the team?
"Tracy and I go back many years. I've raced with Tracy about six years now and I met him about two years prior to that at the Panoz Racing School. We always had a good connection, as friends outside the race track, but also on the race track, working together as coach and driver. I'm certainly going to miss having him around because he is almost like a big brother. He picks on me all the time and I try to do my part and pick back at him. We still do a lot of coaching together, such as testing in the DP car as coach and driver, and will continue doing that this year. We also do a lot of go-kart dates down in Houston, which we really enjoy. Additionally, we have LeMans coming up in a couple of months. I am really looking forward to that and to drive with him again. Both Tracy and Eric are going to be missed because Eric is also a fun chap to be around. I think we all have to respect and understand why we cut back to one car, because Tracy needs to take care of the business opportunities with his regular job. I think everybody is going to miss him and everybody is going to focus on trying to do as good of a job as possible and keep him informed. Hopefully he'll be able to attend most of the races and we will try to make him a proud owner for the rest of the year."
You have had a long wait between the first race of the year at the Rolex 24 At Daytona and this weekend's race at VIR. Share with us about what has happened in that long time frame.
"At Daytona our Krohn Racing Ford Lola was only out qualified by the Porsches, who now have had restrictions imposed by Grand-Am. Tracy continues to be committed to the development of the Proto-Auto Lola, as demonstrated by testing sessions in March and April, We are optimizing set-ups that have found more performance and we expect to be very competitive this weekend. We are focusing on winning and overcoming the points deficiency from our DNF at Daytona. For Ricardo and I, the strategy is to win races and make a great run for the championship this year."
RICARDO ZONTA, Driver No. 76 Krohn Racing Ford Lola:
Last year was your first time to VIR, other than a test and you were still pretty new to the team. How will things be different and will you feel more comfortable this year at VIR?
"Yes, I learned a lot about the Lola car last year and now we know what we need for the VIR race track. Having competed on every Grand-Am track now will be a benefit for me this year. Last year I was learning the new car, the Grand-Am Series, the rules, the competitors and even some of the team, as I had only done one race with Krohn racing previously. This year will be much better for me. I am more comfortable and knowledgeable."
What is your favorite place or corner at VIR?
"I like the fast corners, especially on the last corners. There are a lot of changes on the Virginia track and it is fun to drive."
How important will set-up be at VIR?
"Everywhere, at every track, it is important to have a good set-up, especially when you have so many corners and changes. The Krohn team works very hard at set-up and does a good job."
DAVID BROWN, Krohn Racing Team Manager and Engineer:
Tell us about the testing schedule and what improvements have been made on the cars since last year at VIR, when it was your first real road course race.
"Since VIR last year we have changed a lot of components on the car and quite a lot of our set-up philosophy. We've got aerodynamics improvements and mechanical improvements, most of which have grown during the length of the season. Then we had quite a big step up in terms of componentry over the winter which we ran at Daytona. So we think the potential for the car is much higher than it was at VIR last year. Even in our first race with the Proto-Auto Lola at VIR last year, we worked hard on the set-up onsite and I believe had a seven second lead on the field before an electrical problem sidelined us."
This is the first race as a one-car team, will that be strange or odd for you and the crew and how difficult will it be to adjust since you have been able to share data between two cars for the past three years?
"There are challenges certainly, even down to the fact that we are only taking one truck. I think we have managed to work our way through it now so that it won't be a disadvantage to have only one car from a pace point of view. We used to share data between the two cars. I don't think that will be massively significant in terms of a disadvantage We are bringing to the track the appropriate crew for a single car entry and we are focused on winning races and making a run for the championship. We have been testing both the No. 75 and No. 76 cars and have found more performance as we continue the development of the Proto-Auto Lola. Tracy himself tested both cars earlier this week, driving nearly 250 miles and bettering his personal best time by 1.5 seconds, proving the enhanced grip and balance of the cars. He has made the No. 75 car available and some parties have expressed interest in the opportunity of running that car. We come to VIR very focused on both continuing the Proto-Auto Lola Ford development and winning races."