Krohn Racing will make their eighth appearance at the 24 Hours of Le Mans race on June 22-23, the 90th edition of the annual race at the Circuit de la Sarthe in Le Mans, France.
Previous attempts at success at Le Mans have proved worthwhile, with Tracy and Nic collecting a single second-place finish (2007) and two third-place finishes (2009, 2012) in seven attempts. This year will mark the third year of Krohn Racing entering Le Mans as its own team entity. In 2007-2010 Krohn combined with Risi Competizione and in 2006 with White Lightning Racing, in Krohn’s first attempt at Le Mans.
Krohn and Mediani participated in the recent Le Mans Test on June 8, where Mediani, a newcomer to Le Mans, performed his required laps for race participation. Krohn also spent time in the Ferrari and suffered an accident at the end of the Mulsanne Straight, which required fairly extensive repairs last week to the Prancing Horse to make it race ready.
TRACY W. KROHN, Krohn Racing Team Owner/Driver, No. 57 Krohn Racing Ferrari FF458 GTE-Am:
This year will be your eighth year competing at Le Mans and third with your own team. Why do you keep coming back? What is so special about Le Mans? “This is my favorite race. There is a lot of tradition, high speed, and you get to compete with the very best in the world – the best cars, best drivers. When you get on the podium here you damn well earned it.”
This is the 90thanniversary of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Does that add a different element in your mind to think of being part of such a momentous occasion as both a team owner and driver? “You feel pretty good if you live to be 90. It’s a long time. This is the oldest sports car race in the world so that’s pretty special.”
Once again, the GTE-Am class is growing with 14 cars entered including five Ferraris. You compete against many professional racing drivers who race for a living, as well as talented gentlemen drivers like yourself who have to work harder to be competitive against these pros.
What drives you to win races and be successful in racing like you are in business? “I think a lot of it has to do with perseverance. You must persevere at that level if you can continue. In any 24 hours race irrespective of who the other drivers are, you have to finish. In order to finish you have to persevere.”
Weather conditions at the recent Test you and Maurizio participated in are indicative of what weather can be like at Le Mans during the race. How do you prepare for anything and stay focused and alert even when visibility and conditions can be challenging? “Most of the time it’s just fine. Obviously in testing we had a problem. I missed a braking point and missed the turn. It was self induced. In this sport you pay for any mistake you make.”
NIC JONSSON, No. 57 Krohn Racing Ferrari 430 GTE-Am:
This year will be your eighth year competing at Le Mans and all with teammate and team owner Tracy Krohn. Why do you keep coming back? What is so special about Le Mans? “First of all, it’s the biggest race in the world every year. It’s great to get an opportunity to compete at the highest level of competition with and against the greatest drivers and teams in the world.
Tracy and my own dream was always to come to Le Mans. Once you get the taste of it and are in the sport, it’s one of the races you want to do every year because it’s one of the greatest spectacles on earth.
Once again, the GTE-Am class is growing with 14 cars entered including five Ferraris. How does the competition stack up this year? “The competition gets tougher and tougher each year. This year is the greatest and toughest competition so far. In our class there are Ferraris, Aston Martins, Porsche and Corvettes.
Ferrari has a little bit of a disadvantage compared to some competitors. At the same time it’s a pure 24-hour endurance race. The more important part is to be reliable and consistent and do your scheduled pit stops. Pure speed is not usually what decides the outcome of this race.”
Because the Krohn Racing team is vying for the GTE-Am championship in the WEC, Le Mans, as a double points race, can make or break the championship. Talk about that factor... “This year it is more important than ever for us for double points, especially since we had a couple of disappointing WEC races earlier this season. Le Mans is the race for us to turn everything around and get back in contention of the WEC championship.”
Anything can happen at Le Mans. How do you prepare for the unexpected? “You basically go in with the mindset to not take any risk, be sure you do your scheduled pit stops and scheduled brake changes. Instead of trying to pass somebody, it’s better to sit back and wait and not take undo risks. You have to be in endurance mode the whole time and bring the car back every time to the pits in good condition.”
MAURIZIO MEDIANI, Driver, No. 57 Krohn Racing Ferrari F458 GTE-Am:
This will be your first time competing at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. You recently participated in the Test and got your required 10 laps in. What did you find the most interesting about the Le Mans circuit? “I found the first part of the circuit to be really good, before and after Dunlop bridge. The last part, the Porsche curve, is probably the most difficult. The rest, it’s only straight.”
Do you think the track layout and overall Le Mans venue lives up to everything you’ve heard and dreamed about it? “Yes, it is. Other than two chicanes, I think the circuit is the same as many years ago. There is no space to make a mistake. If you do, you are in the wall. So this type of circuit doesn’t exist anymore, and to do a 24 hour race on such a difficult circuit is not very easy.”
The 24 Hours of Le Mans has been called the ultimate test of man and machine. Tell us how you think it tests both man and machine. “The circuit is narrow. There are slow corners where we use first gear and we stay ‘flat’ in sixth gear for a long, long time. With rain it becomes very slippery and at night there is no artificial light.
There are also many cars of different categories and speed. You put everything together and then drive like that for 24 hours! It is not easy to arrive at the end!”
Once again, the GTE-Am class is growing with 14 cars entered including five Ferraris. How does the competition stack up this year, especially the other four Ferraris? “It stacks up with lots of cars and lots of competition. I’ll try my best to be competitive and I’ll do my best to give a support to both of my teammates, Tracy and Nic.”
Anything can happen at Le Mans. How do you prepare for the unexpected? “This is really a secret. I believe in the suggestions of David Brown, and of his experience.”
DAVID BROWN, Krohn Racing Team Manager/Race Engineer:
This is the 90th anniversary of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Does that add a different element in your mind to think of being part of such a momentous occasion? “We will certainly be aware throughout the event that the Le Mans 24 hour race has reached this remarkable achievement. We will be delighted to win our class in this prestigious event!”
Maurizio and Tracy participated in the Le Mans test last weekend. How did that go and how do you feel going into race week? “We had a useful test. We established parameters for wet weather running and Maurizio completed his obligatory 10 laps as he is a rookie here.
Unfortunately, we had an accident early in the afternoon so we didn’t run in the dry. We are much more comfortable with the car though and there is plenty of time in practice to tinker with the basic setup. Overall we are in good shape going into practice.”
Anything can happen at Le Mans. How do you prepare for the unexpected? “We have an experienced crew and we have all been here many times before. The drivers know what can happen here and we are preparing for every scenario we have experienced in the past in our combined experience and for anything we think may be thrown at us during the race.
We know that there will be some incident or issue in the race which will put us under additional pressure, but the quality of our personnel and the preparation will see us through.”
There is a lot of coordination that goes into any 24 hours race but one on a different continent requires all the more. How do you stay on top of everything from logistics to car prep to crew management? “We have a great team, constantly at work in the background planning, plotting and organizing the complex logistics. We flew the car to Europe and sea freighted the spares and tools.
We use a workshop in the UK as our temporary base and we rent trucks and temporary personnel to move all this around Europe. Our freight is already in boxes in air freight ready form, in preparation for the season after Le Mans.
We are testing after Le Mans and the freight will finally be in Antwerp mid-July for sea freight to Brazil for the next race. It’s hectic, but good communication throughout our organization has enabled us to get this far.”
On Tuesday, June 18, the drivers will meet the spectators for an autograph session from 5:00 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. on the pit lane. The first practice session begins on Wednesday, June 19 for four hours between 4:00 and 8:00 p.m., followed by the first qualifying session the same day between 10:00 p.m. and midnight.
This will continue on Thursday 20th June with qualifying between 5:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m. to midnight. Warm-up on race morning, Saturday, June 22 will be at 9:00 a.m., with race start at 3:00 p.m.