Krohn Racing Ready for 24 Hours of Le Mans
Krohn Racing’s Ferrari 430 GTE-Am team is ready to converge on the Circuit de la Sarthe for the 79th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, June 11-12. The American-based team will be challenging the twice-around-the-clock endurance classic for its first time as a team as part of the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup Series.
Team owner Tracy W. Krohn, of Houston, Texas, and co-driver Nic Jönsson, of Sweden and currently living in Buford, Georgia, have paired at Le Mans on five previous occasions, including four in the Ferrari 430 GT like they have entered for 2011. Joining them is Ferrari regular, Italian Michele Rugolo. The trio won the first ILMC round of the 2011 season at the 12 Hours of Sebring in the GTE-Am class. After an eighth place finish at Spa with just Krohn and Jönsson, the team currently is second in class points.
Krohn and Jönsson have climbed on the prestigious Le Mans podium twice, in 2007 in second place, and 2009 in third place in the GT2 class. They also have another podium at the 12 Hours of Sebring in 2009 in third, all in the reliable and race-proven F430.
There is no other race like it in the world and you know that you get to compete with the best of the best.
TRACY W. KROHN, Krohn Racing Team Owner/Driver, No. 57 Krohn Racing Ferrari 430 GTE-Am:
What is required to succeed in the toughest test for man and machine, the twice-round- the-clock 24 Hours of Le Mans race?
“Patience. It takes a great deal of patience to finish an endurance race like Le Mans. And finishing is what you have to do. You are not going to get to the podium if you drive at a pace that you cannot continually repeat faultlessly. We also have an experienced set of drivers and we don’t have egos in the cockpit. If we can maintain that and keep the car out of the pits and away from anyone else’s mistake on the track, we should be where we want to be…at the top.”
What are your thoughts on representing Ferrari as both a team owner and driver at Le Mans?
“We have enjoyed the season with Ferrari so far and their modus operandi has been one of complete support and we do not feel that we are lacking as a privateers team from any factory support! As a driver, it has been a pleasure to drive the F430 for many years at this race and we can't wait to do it again.”
What makes Le Mans so special?
“Le Mans is special because it is Le Mans! There is no other race like it in the world and you know that you get to compete with the best of the best. You know it's going to be fast and you know there will be drama, pageantry, and for sure there will be really high speeds and surprises that will test all drivers!”
NIC JONSSON, No. 57 Krohn Racing Ferrari 430 GTE-Am:
How do you prepare for a 24 hour race?
“A 24 hour race is both very tough physically and mentally. I think the mental part is more important than the physical part. If you’re in good physical shape, your body is going to adapt and do that for 24 hours with minimal effects. If you’re not mentally prepared it’s going to be very difficult. That’s something I’m working on, not just for the 24 hours but for all year long. For a couple or three of weeks before the race I work out differently. I work out in the middle of the night to make my body adapt to work out at different hours and not just the mornings so the body gets alerted something is going to happen. I do that and also eat more frequently during the night as well so my body doesn’t reject that at Le Mans. We do other things as well as far as drinking and eating different foods to build a big energy bank that you’re going to have to draw from during the 24 hours. You never know if it is going to be a rain race, which is even more work on your mental side, or if it’s going to be a dry race with high pace or whatever it is. Anything that could happen you are prepared for if you start that training a few weeks ahead I have learned over the year. That has definitely helped me in my performance.”
What are your thoughts on the driving trio of Tracy Krohn, Michele Rugolo and yourself?
“We run in the ILMC GTE-Am category but also compete against all the GTE cars with amateurs and professional, and full factory driver GTE teams. They are very competitive and very strong. I think it plays into our favor to have a European driver on our roster. Michele Rugolo worked with us for the first time at Sebring and did a very good job. Tracy and I have been to Le Mans together for five years. We have had two podium finishes. He and I feel very comfortable in Le Mans and in the past four years with the Ferrari. We know that platform, and along with Michele adding his experience to the equation, I think we will be very good. I have big hopes for Le Mans this year. I think it’s a chance for us to run up front for podium again with the driver line-up we have. Also it is the first year that Krohn Racing is going to Le Mans as its own team. In past years we have been joined with Risi Competizione. Having the full Krohn Racing effort and with the guys we have been working together with for five years is going to give us a better boost. They always give us not only a fast car but also a reliable car. With the level of engineering we have and teamwork it is a great feeling to go there this year and compete with the utmost of confidence. I’m looking forward to it.”
Share your thoughts on driving the reliable and race-proven Ferrari 430.
“I think the Ferrari has proven to be a reliable and fast race car at fast technical tracks with a long straightaway like Le Mans. With the support we get from Ferrari and Michelotto, along with Dunlop tires, I think this is one of the best platforms you can have. The Corvette is very fast on this type of tracks, so is the Porsche, as well as the Aston-Martin. I think the Ferrari suits Krohn Racing and our driver line-up very well. Michele has been with Ferrari and AF Corse for the last four years. Tracy and I have been driving a Ferrari now for five years at Sebring and Le Mans. I think we’re all very familiar and comfortable with this platform. We won’t be the only team with the benefit of driving a Ferrari 430 at Le Mans but I do believe in my heart we have the best prepared Ferrari 430.”
MICHELE RUGOLO, No. 57 Krohn Racing Ferrari 430 GTE-Am:
Please share your thoughts on the driving trio of Tracy Krohn, Nic Jönsson and yourself following your experience at Sebring.
“After the results in Sebring I can say we are perfect! I know Le Mans is a different race but the approach is the same. I think that the most important thing in this kind of race is the understanding there is, not just from a technical point of view, but most of all from a personal. You need to share a car for a week and then for 24 hours. It is important to agree on the set up, on the strategy and to be ready and flexible to change it if necessary. With them I know that they are always ready to do it!
How are you preparing for this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans event?
“I’ve done the Le Mans 24 hours in 2003 and I know it s a very hard race from a physical point of view but I was already prepared for Sebring so I just kept doing the same work out and I’m trying to sleep as much as I can. From a driving point of view, I am practicing a lot for the International GT Open so I have been in the car pretty much.”
How many times have you competed at Le Mans and what makes Le Mans so special?
“I’ve competed in Le Mans just one time and it is special for many, many reasons. The first one is the track. You drive in a normal circuit but then you go to a street part where the asphalt is different and where you can reach a very high speed. The second reason is the passion that all the fans have for this sport. In Italy you can forget to find in the race track this kind of people. In Italy just F1 exists so it is very nice to talk to people with this kind of knowledge in motorsports. You can feel famous for one day! However it is difficult to explain what is special about Le Mans in a few words...you just need to be there and breathe the air of motorsport.
JEFF HAZELL, Krohn Racing Motorsports Manager:
So much goes into the logistics for a 24-hour international race like Le Mans for an American team. Please share what the team has done to prepare and show up for Le Mans.
“The logistic requirements are many. With the exception of moving our truck around Europe they are not overly complicated if you start planning sufficiently in advance. Taking an American truck to Europe costs approximately the same as flying the cars, equipment and renting trucks locally, but it gives us the advantage of a consistent operational platform. The truck did not have the car in it though when it went by sea shortly after the Sebring race. The car went by air to maximize the workshop time after Sebring. Inevitably there are additional small air shipments and air travel schedules for the crew. Of course the internet makes life easier for arranging travel these days. The toughest part is preparing customs documents and achieving permits to move our large truck American across European highways.”
Share a little about the Krohn Racing’s team and crew member’s vast experience at Le Mans.
“The team benefits from having permanent long serving members, several have worked together and at Le Mans since the early 1980’s. Such experience causes us to always strive very hard to achieve reliability in the cars and discipline in our teamwork. Fortunately, we are properly funded so we have sufficient components to have low-mileage items for racing as well as fully prepared pieces for practice, qualifying and race spares.
“Tracy & Nic have competed in four Le Mans in a GT Ferrari and Michele, although he has not raced at Le Mans since 2003, is racing a GT Ferrari almost every week. Their strength as an endurance driving team is built on the support and respect they have for each other.”
DAVID BROWN, Krohn Racing Team Manager/Race Engineer:
How do you prepare for a 24-hour race like Le Mans?
“The key is to only pit for regular service, fuel, tires, driver changes and brakes and nothing else. Reality is that something will happen. We have to deal with everything calmly and efficiently and maximize our time on the track, accumulating laps and km in the race. We prepare the car to the highest standard where performance is balanced against reliability. The team has to be well equipped, fed and rested to keep everyone at the top of their game. Errors in the pits are costly and can be avoided with patience and thorough preparation. What happens on the track amongst the other competitors is always the big unknown. We can only prepare for all foreseeable scenarios and execute the appropriate response as necessary.”
Please share your thoughts on the driving trio of Krohn, Jönsson and Rugolo following the experience at Sebring.
“We have a great driver line-up! All three of them have driven at Le Mans previously, with success. We are really looking forward to the race week. We are determined to have a good race.”
What are your thoughts on the reliable and race-proven Ferrari 430?
“Reliability is only partly achieved through design. The methods and practices used to build the car and the attention to detail of the mechanics and technicians working on the car, as well as the depth of preparation in the months prior to the event are equally important. We have a great team, with vast experience (and age!). Races like Le Mans put a premium on this experience level.”
What do you expect the competition to be like at the 2011 Le Mans 24 Hour?
“It will be intense -- a large GTE field and strong GTE-AM field. Executing the race efficiently will pay dividends.”
Highlights from the 24 Hours of Le Mans will be broadcast on the SPEED TV channel on Saturday, June 11th at 8:30 a.m. ET, 3:30 p.m. and again at 11:00 p.m. ET. The finish will air on Sunday, June 12 from 6:00 a.m.-9:30 a.m. ET. Worldwide coverage varies. Check your local listing.
-source: krohn racing