Krohn Racing heads to 6 Hours of Zhuhai

Khron Racing press release

Krohn Racing Ready for ILMC Finale at the 6 Hours of Zhuhai

#57 Krohn Racing Ferrari F430: Tracy Krohn, Nic Jonsson, Michele Rugolo
#57 Krohn Racing Ferrari F430: Tracy Krohn, Nic Jonsson, Michele Rugolo

Photo by: Richard Sloop

Following their second GTE-Am victory of the 2011 season at Petit Le Mans in October, the all-American Krohn Racing Team heads to Zhuhai, China battling to hold their second place position in the GTE-Am points championship in the International Le Mans Cup series. The 6 Hours of Zhuhai at Zhuhai International Circuit, November 13, 2011, is the final race on the 2011 ILMC calendar.

Team owner/driver Tracy W. Krohn and co-drivers, Nic Jönsson and Michele Rugolo, will be seeking their third victory of the season and their first off of U.S. soil. The Krohn Racing team won both the 12 Hours of Sebring (Sebring, Florida, USA, March 19) and Petit Le Mans (Road Atlanta, Braselton, Georgia, USA, October 1). However, a DNF at the famous 24 Hours of Le Mans race in June prevented the green-and-blue livered Ferrari 430 GT team from taking home the GTE-Am championship this season. The French Labre Competition Corvette team has captured the GTE-Am championship while Krohn Racing sits in second with 50 points, just three points ahead of the AF Corse Ferrari team.

QUOTES:

TRACY W. KROHN, Krohn Racing Team Owner/Driver, No. 57 Krohn Racing Ferrari 430 GTE-Am:

You are headed to the race finale of the 2011 season at Zhuhai, China. This will be the fourth new track through the ILMC on which you will compete this season. What has it been like to race at these famous international circuits this year?

“Racing at many of the classic endurance race tracks around the world has been interesting, challenging and fun. The ACO has offered a suburb global series for competitors like me to race at some spectacular tracks in a very competitive series.”

What are you looking forward to the most at Zhuhai?

“I’ve never been to China before so the entire experience will be new for my wife, Laurie, and me. Competing on another new circuit that I have only seen on a simulator will be another challenge to tackle and I’m looking forward to the task. I had heard that Zhuhai was a beautiful city and the description is entirely accurate.”

Which has been your favorite circuit so far in this series and why?

“Well, I always enjoy Le Mans. Who doesn’t? This year we didn’t have the success we were hoping to have but I always like competing at Le Mans. This year both Sebring and Road Atlanta were favorites because we celebrated our class victories at those two circuits.”

You have been very successful on the two American circuits, winning in class at Sebring and Petit. Has your experience at these circuits been the key to your success?

“Experience on the circuit always helps, especially for me, who doesn’t make his living as a race driver. Having data on a circuit and tire information is an extra help too. Our team is always prepared though so we aren’t concerned if it is a new track.”

The GTE-Am championship has been captured already by Labre but Krohn Racing is in contention for second in the point race. How difficult has the championship hunt been this season?

“The most disappointing was the engine failure at Le Mans. We would have won the championship had it not been for that. It has been very difficult this year. There are many good teams and drivers running in the ILMC. We may have won two races but we are barely holding on to second in points going into the final race of the year. The competition is very challenging but that’s why we race! We will work hard to do as well as we can for this race and look forward to coming back to China.”

NIC JONSSON, No. 57 Krohn Racing Ferrari 430 GTE-Am:

Have you ever driven at Zhuhai…and if so what and when?

“I have driven in Zhuhai before but on the street course in 1995. That was before they built the permanent track, so I’ve never raced on this particular track.”

What are you looking forward to the most at Zhuhai?

“We have had an up and down season. We started with a victory at Sebring. Then we had a couple of mechanicals that the team couldn’t control. They were more vendor issues that were unfortunate because we were strong and were leading in Le Mans. Then we had another issue at Imola. With the current points systems, especially with double points at Le Mans, the championship was pretty much over at that point, even though we bounced back and came back very strong with a win at Petit Le Mans. What I’m looking forward to do is go down there and hopefully end the season with a victory. The Krohn team has put a very good car underneath us all year, so it would be great to celebrate the last race of the year with a victory. I’ll look forward to coming back home afterwards and recharge our batteries and hopefully be back next year and run for the championship.”

Krohn Racing have been very successful on the two American circuits, winning in class at Sebring and Petit. Has your experience at these circuits been the key to the success?

“I don’t really think so. We were very fast at Imola and leading at Le Mans, and quick at Spa. The key to success in the United States, and especially with the first race in Sebring, was that we were extremely well prepared, as Krohn Racing always does. They prepare their efforts very well. We came out of the gate very strong and prepared from the get-go. We did a lot of testing at Sebring. Obviously at Petit, it was our home track, so we have done nearly all our testing over the past five or six years at Road Atlanta, first with the prototype and now with the Ferrari. We have a lot of laps around that circuit. I don’t think that’s been the main key though. I think the main key in the races in the States has been that we have not had any mechanicals or any mishaps with the traffic. In this kind of racing, the prototypes are so fast and they have to get through the field with the GT cars being much slower. If you’re in the wrong spot and the wrong time, you may have bad luck. I think we’ve been in contention at all the races, so I think the success in the U.S. has not been because of that. It’s been more of a matter of circumstances.”

MICHELE RUGOLO, No. 57 Krohn Racing Ferrari 430 GTE-Am:

Have you ever driven at Zhuhai…and if so what and when?

“No, I’ve never driven there. We only drove on the simulator of Zhuhai with Tracy and Nic when we were in England.”

What has been your favorite ILMC circuit this season?

“Imola is my favorite, of course, because it is my home track. Petit Le Mans is another favorite for many reasons – the track is nice, the event is great and because we won the race. Everything was perfect.”

You are new to the Krohn Racing team this year and have been able to experience victories at Sebring and Petit Le Mans – two very important races – what has your experience been like this year and have you been surprised by the success of the team?

“I did not know Krohn Racing. Actually, after a season, I can say I am not surprised about the important victories we have done because the team is one of the most professional teams I have ever worked with. David Brown is an amazing engineer. He worked in Formula One many years and has won many world championships as an engineer. Jeff Hazell is an incredible person, a very charismatic person, and he can manage the team very, very well. For sure, with this combination, they can choose the right people to work on the team. All the guys are professional all year long. If you think, the secret of our victory in Petit Le Mans has been that we did not have any mistakes on the pit stops. We did not get any penalties, any stop-and-go from the marshals because we have been perfect, even in the box, which is a really important thing, especially when you see the Corvette car had many penalties for mistakes.”

"At the beginning of the season I knew nothing at all about the team. I knew by Ferrari and Michelotto and Maurizio that the team was very professional, but I did not know for myself. After one year, I can say it is very nice to work with all of the people with the team. Everyone is really professional from all aspects, so it has been absolutely fantastic!”

The GTE-Am championship has been captured already by Labre but Krohn Racing is in contention for second in the point race. How difficult has the championship hunt been this season?

“The championship has been very difficult because we won two important races out of six so far and we are not even sure if we will finish second in the championship. This gives you an idea of how difficult it is. We won 30 percent of the races and we did not win the championship. In all of the cars there were one or two very good drivers. You need the reliability of the car, good teamwork, consistency of the drivers. I did not expect the championship to be as difficult as this. After Sebring, I thought it would be much easier because we won the race and many cars had problems. Then everything changed very quickly. It has been difficult since that first race.”

JEFF HAZELL, Krohn Racing Motorsports Manager:

Krohn Racing has experienced some success this season in the ILMC series with victories and Sebring and Petit Le Mans, but has also experienced some tough races such as the DNF at Le Mans. What is the general feeling of the team about the 2011 ILMC racing season?

“The ILMC has provided a positive and enjoyable year for the entire Krohn Team; great tracks, good races and event management and strong competition in all classes. Our feeling is that at some of the six hour races we lost time on the track, while at Sebring and Petit we performed almost perfectly. At Le Mans we were performing perfectly too, until a crankshaft failure caused a DNF and the loss a potential 30 points, as the race has double points. This DNF effectively finished our championship hopes. So, of course, we feel let down by the engine failure and question the championship points system, but our enduring feeling is that we have been racing in the right place.”

DAVID BROWN, Krohn Racing Team Manager/Race Engineer:

As Krohn Racing goes to another new circuit in Zhuhai for this upcoming race, how have you been preparing for car set-up?

“We’ve looked at the track layout and characteristics and from our experience so far come up with a starting setup. We are going to take part in the test day prior to the event and that will allow us to test some different setup directions, as well as get the drivers acclimatized to the track.”

How have you been preparing your drivers for the race at Zhuhai?

“The drivers have done some driving simulation work, so at least they know which way the corners go, which is a start!”

Krohn Racing have been very successful on the two American circuits, winning in class at Sebring and Petit. Has the team’s experience at these circuits been the key to the success or what has made a difference?

“In fact we have only had three races at which we have not had severe race issues -- the two U.S. races and Silverstone. In Imola we had a fast car but we had an engine related issue which parked us at the trackside for 30 minutes; in Le Mans, again, we were exactly on target but the engine failed catastrophically; and in Spa we were quick but we had damage from contact, which necessitated an eight minute return lap and a trip into the garage for repairs. So when we have a trouble-free run we score good points. In fact, Silverstone was the only event at which we were not quick, which we understand that fully now. We are still the only team to win two races and we aim to increase that score to three.”

The GTE-Am championship has been captured already by Labre but Krohn Racing is in contention for second in the point race. How difficult has the championship hunt been this season?

“The points structure severely limits your Championship aspirations if you don’t finish at Le Mans. It is worth double points and we retired after ten and a half hours when the engine failed. We have won two out of the six races so far. It’s tight to stay second in the Championship but we believe we can.”

The 6 Hours of Zhuhai race is the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup series finale. A 2012 schedule for the new FIA World Endurance Championship series is expected to be announced this weekend at the Zhuhai International Circuit by the ACO and FIA sanctioning bodies.

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