Krohn Racing was able to pull off an incredible feat.
Le Mans, France - After having just 17 days from the time they received a late invitation to the 24 Hours of Le Mans race, until the day the team and car had to be in Le Mans, France for scrutineering, Krohn Racing was able to pull off an incredible feat. Not only did they make it to the 82nd running of the endurance race, but the team completed the entire 24-hours of the world-renowned event and even finished in the Top 10 of the GTE-Am class.
Team owner/driver Tracy W. Krohn, along with teammates Nic Jonsson and Ben Collins, had been consistently running in the Top 5 of the GTE-Am class when the No. 57 Krohn Racing Ferrari F458 suffered a late gearbox issue with less than three hours to go in the race. Two pits stops for three laps put them out of contention for a podium finish, but the extraordinary effort of the entire Krohn Racing team earned them a tenth-place finish out of an original GTE-Am class field of 19 machines and 54 entries overall.
Tracy Krohn took the green-and-blue Prancing Horse to the checkered flag, and although the gearbox issue may have kept the team from the sought-after podium finish, the driving effort put in by Krohn and teammates Nic Jonsson and Ben Collins and the crew's efforts behind the Ferrari's finish has made the entire Krohn Racing team proud.
The car was fantastic and Ben Collins did a spectacular job. It was exactly what we wanted to see from him. He has a lot of skill and no ego and nothing bothers the guy. He just gets it done. He's very similar to Nic, and I think we proved that the car has some speed to it. I was pleased with what I did and there was no major drama. Too bad we have a two-dollar part failure, but such is life. That's part of this business, but at the end of the day, I'm looking forward to coming back and I feel there's a pretty good chance we'll get another invite."
NIC JONSSON, Driver, No. 57 Krohn Racing Ferrari F458 GTE-Am: "Unfortunately we had a gearbox issue, a little component, but were otherwise running strong the whole time. Because we didn't make the test days, we were a day behind everybody, so it took us the first three or four stints to figure out everything with the car. We got that and were running leader pace, switching between third, fourth, and fifth position in class.
Unfortunately, when Ben got in the car we had a gearbox issue that put us three laps down, and then Tracy had an issue with vibrations in the car. All in all, we had a decent showing and we were fast. With the late entry, we came here and showed we had the speed and the guys did a phenomenal job, it just didn't go our way. We learned a lot and are now looking forward to Watkins Glen."
BEN COLLINS, Driver, No. 57 Krohn Racing Ferrari F458 GTE-Am: "This race weekend has been amazing. I'm really disappointed for the team that we had sight of the podium, and then had a gearbox problem that the team brilliantly fixed, but it held us up long enough to take that away. We were chasing down third, which would have been incredible. At the start of the weekend, we were very confident of getting the car to the podium. My last three stints were really fun and I did my best time (of the race), so I was pleased with that. The car felt fantastic throughout and the guys got a good balance in the short amount of time we had. In the qualifying sessions, when everyone was crashing and bashing, we kept our heads down and made sure we could get our car across the line.
I've loved working with Krohn Racing. It's a great mix of guys, and Gary, the team manager, is extremely switched on. They're all super professional, and the race really ran like clockwork. We had great communication, the engineering was fantastic, so we were really well supported throughout the entire thing from a technical standpoint, it was all first-rate. I think that's what definitely put us in contention for the podium finish and gave us that pace, especially towards the second half of the race. I hope I get to do it again."
HAYDEN BURVILL, Krohn Racing Engineer: "This weekend went pretty much how I had imagined it would. With our limited amount of track time, the first part of the race was going to be an evaluation of how we could compete. We stayed out of trouble, but I think the thing that made the greatest impact on our race in the first quarter was that after the rainstorm, race control lost control of communications. I guess a lot of teams were using the same provider and the system was either damaged or overloaded during the storm, and we literally couldn't communicate with the car.
Race control couldn't communicate effectively with their safety crews and pace cars and their thousands of staff here, and it seemed like the race was pretty much out of control for about 20 minutes. Unfortunately, we were impacted by that, and we were held at the end of the pit lane in some extraordinary measure. We were kind of prejudiced by that because we lost a lot of track position, almost a whole lap, so that was hard to work around.
The car was really good, Tracy did a great job in his first stint, he had to drive in the rain during a drying session. We set to work on our triple stints to see how competitive we were, and it seemed like we lacked top speed certainly in the first third of the race. But during the night and during today, while some of the other cars had perhaps lost their setup a bit, our car was still brilliant. Ben did his fastest lap on his last lap in the car, but that would've been within a second or so of the pole time for GTE-Am. Certainly lots of GTE-Am cars ran laps that fast, but where we had initially thought we were slightly off the pace, we actually did have pretty good race pace.
It was exciting going into the last third of the race because we were in a position where we were in a nice competition with a Ferrari and a Porsche, and we were all competing for fourth place. It's nice to be in a race and actually have a competition that you're strategizing for so you can try and work out how you can beat them with what you've got, and the other teams are trying to do the same. That's the interesting part, and it's a game of chess that goes on for hours.
Then, unfortunately, we had an incident with a component on the gear selection mechanism that stopped working correctly and took us two stops to isolate and correct. By then, we had dropped out of that competition. It's satisfying to finish a race like this, especially with the car unscathed, and with the team all safely put to be tonight, that's what it's all about. As a small team we came here on a very short schedule, and everyone should go home feeling very accomplished."
The next race, Round Five of the IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship GTLM class will be the Sahlen's Six Hours of the Glen, held at Watkins Glen International, Watkins Glen, N.Y., on June 27-29, 2014.