The Krohn Racing Ferrari F458 of team owner/driver Tracy W. Krohn, Nic Jönsson and Michele Rugolo proudly made an appearance on the podium at the 80th annual 24 Hours of Le Mans race today. The Krohn Team finished in third place in the GTE-Am class, the third podium for Krohn Racing in the past seven years.
Krohn and Jönsson previously finished second in class in 2007 and third in class in 2009 and have been hoping to collected another prestigious Le Mans trophy this June, this time with their co-driver, Italian Michele Rugolo.
The Krohn Racing Team started from the 10th position in class and the 52nd spot on the grid with fastest qualifying driver Rugolo. They cycled through near perfect pit stops and driving stints throughout the twice-around-the-clock event and gradually worked their way up the time charts to the inevitable third place finish.
As season-long participants in the 2012 FIA World Endurance Championship, the championship points that Krohn Racing receives is actually for being the second place contender (in WEC), bringing Krohn Racing into second place in the FIA WEC points chase for GTE-Am teams for the 2012 season.
TRACY W. KROHN, Krohn Racing Team Owner/Driver, No. 57 Krohn Racing Ferrari F458 GTE-Am: “That was just really not easy. That was a hard race! The team was just terrific. We had some track issues. I had a couple of them but we survived all that. We need to get tires sorted a little bit better but all-in-all, it was good. Mechanically, the car was perfect. The motor was good the whole time. There was never an issue of ‘wondering if the car will make it.’ The engine was perfect. The transmission was perfect. That’s how you finish races and what you have to do! Jeff (Hazell, Krohn Racing Motorsports Manager) and David (Brown, Team Manager/Race Engineer) coordinated it all, as well as each and every one of the guys. Everybody did a great job, including our drivers, Nic Jönsson and Michele Rugolo, who were spectacular. Everybody was superb and kept the thing going. Even our physios kept me running through the night. I have some back problems and they really helped.
We just kept on going and that’s what you have to do to finish this race. We’ve come here and every time we’ve finished we’ve been on the podium so that’s the key thing. You cannot get anywhere here unless you finish. The last lap was amazing! It was really fun. The marshals were all over the track. It was just crazy. Thank goodness we weren’t racing for anything at that particular moment. It was a sight!”
NIC JONSSON, No. 57 Krohn Racing Ferrari F458 GTE-Am: “It’s always fantastic to have the opportunity to finish on the podium at the biggest sports car race in the world. We’ve been here before in second and third. We were able to repeat a third position today. It’s obviously a great achievement for the whole Krohn Racing Team with the new Ferrari 458. You go to each race to win every one you enter, but to even just finish a 24-hour race is a huge accomplishment from the drivers to the crew, the whole team and logistics behind it. I’m very proud of the Krohn Racing guys and very fortunate to be a part of it. I’m looking forward to coming back here next year and hopefully step on the top of the podium.”
MICHELE RUGOLO, No. 57 Krohn Racing Ferrari F458 GTE-Am: “I feel 50/50 because I’m happy to be on the podium. I’m not happy because if the car was like it was at the end for the entire race, we could have won in our category, not easily, but at least we could have fought more with the two other competitors. As with the tires, we know that they are quick when it’s warm and it has been a very cold week. We had many troubles all through the week. For sure, I’m happy. I always try to find some way to improve.
“The crew did everything perfectly. We didn’t get any penalties, which mean everyone was really focused on their job. The car didn’t have a single problem. We had a couple of punctures, but it’s not the fault of the team, of course. Everything was perfect! The strategy worked perfect. When the temperature was okay, the car was perfect so we can see that David Brown did a perfect job, as well as Jeff and their strategies. There’s always something more they can add. They are quick and precise!”
DAVID BROWN, Krohn Racing Team Manager/Race Engineer: “We weren’t quick enough to finish first or second and we didn’t have the pace, but what we did have was the reliability and the quality of the people on the team and that’s what got us the third place, so we’re very pleased.”
JEFF HAZELL, Krohn Racing Motorsports Manager: “The single most important thing was that we finished the race because it has double points. We know from last year how a non-finish can terminate your championship aspirations. Of course, you always like to win but I don’t think we had the performance. Our tire supply was not prompt and it took us until quite late in the race to turn the sort of lap times we should have been turning earlier in the week. Having said that, I don’t think we could have turned competitive lap times throughout the temperature range of the race. And when we moved into third place, and you’ll remember we started very low down the rankings, those ahead of us were faster than us and those behind us were faster than us. I thought we would get eaten up from behind. But those teams had reliability problems. The one thing this team has worked on very hard and Michelotto worked on very hard, especially since Sebring, is reliability. A lot of people in the team and outside the team pulled together to get us our reliability we had today, which was perfect. Perfect reliability at Le Mans is an extremely rare thing. That, added to good teamwork from everybody, the team, drivers, crew, hospitality staff, all the people who make it come together, the teamwork and reliability assisted in producing the result.”
The next FIA World Endurance Championship race, Round 4, will be held at the Silverstone Circuit on August 25, 2012.