As the skies above delivered a variety of weather over the 24 hours of racing at Le Mans, so the result delivered one of mixed feelings for all within the Risi Competizione team. With their Krohn Racing partners, there was joy and jubilation at...
As the skies above delivered a variety of weather over the 24 hours of racing at Le Mans, so the result delivered one of mixed feelings for all within the Risi Competizione team.
With their Krohn Racing partners, there was joy and jubilation at the Ferrari 430 GT of Tracy Krohn, Colin Braun and Nic Jönsson finishing 2nd in the GT2 class (19th overall), but sadness at the retirement the team's other entry.
The only Ferrari representatives on the GT2 podium included the youngest driver in the race, 18-year-old Colin Braun, who achieved this superb result under extremely challenging conditions on his debut at the world's most famous sportscar race. He was ably backed by Tracy W Krohn of Houston, Texas, and Nic Jönsson who performed brilliantly in the very worst of weather and track conditions.
The final two hours of the race on Sunday were run under heavy rain, and over 45 minutes of the final hour saw the field parading behind a safety car. Other than some quick repairs to the rear end of the car after Braun was hit by another (at just after 0600 hrs this morning), this car ran trouble free for the majority of the race.
As had the Ferrari 430 GT with the 12 Hours of Sebring-winning driver line up of Melo, Mowlem and Salo. They had come unscathed through the mixed wet/dry lottery that became the opening hours of the 75th edition of the 24 Hour race, and took the lead in the GT2 class at 1911 hrs on Saturday evening.
It was a lead they would not relinquish until past 0600 on Sunday morning when an unfortunate and desperately unlucky accident would result in their eventual retirement from the race a few hours later.
Giuseppe Risi, Team Principal and owner of the Houston-based racing team commented as the checkered flag fell, "It really is a good result for Risi Competizione. It would have been real sad for the team not to fulfil our expectations, after all the effort we've put in, and to go away empty-handed. But we are going home with something which is second place, and we also have to respect the people who came first, and third, that's what it's all about. You can't be greedy and expect to come first all the time, although that's what we always set out to do. We had the car to do it, we were there for 14 hours plus but there'll be next time." Colin Braun (the youngest ever driver to be podium placed at Le Mans): "It was fantastic. There was a sea of people underneath me on the podium and it was really neat. To see the guys down there who had worked so hard during the whole race, and I feel bad for them they don't get all the glory. I had a great opportunity thanks to Tracy and Giuseppe.
"For me, I'm going off to stock car racing now and this was the one shot I had to do Le Mans and for my first time here to get a podium is a pretty neat opportunity, I think, and it's something I'm really happy with and proud of. Everyone worked hard, and Tracy and Nic told me everything they knew about this race, and it was a really big team effort which all came off in the end."
Tracy Krohn: "It can't be any better than this and if it is I just don't know about it. The drivers were fortunate enough to be in the car but the result doesn't happen without a great team. We were fortunate enough that the car was very well prepared and we had almost no trouble at all, and it was just a superb day for us. We had all kinds of weather conditions but the car was set up good for the wet as it was for the dry. It handled properly all day long. We had a couple of little incidents but we got through them and kept going and that's largely as a result of the team. All these guys are the ones that made it happen today."
Nic Jönsson: "It was a fantastic day. I race for Risi Competizione back in the States and for Krohn Racing in Grand Am too. To be on the podium at the biggest sportscar event in the world is a very special feeling and to be able to drive here is wonderful. I'd been driving for 20 years and never able to make it to Le Mans before Tracy put the deal together for last year. We didn't have a very good race then but to finish this year.the car was great all day, everything was in place, the crew did a fantastic job to prepare the car. It was as good the last hour as it was the first in the race which says a lot about the preparation. I can't say enough about the guys and how happy I am to be on the podium. It will be in the history books and it's very special."
Jaime Melo: "It's very disappointing to finish Le Mans like this. The team did a very good job and everybody put a lot of hard work and effort into it and I don't have much else to say. I want to thank all the Risi Competizione mechanics on the team and the Michelin guys who did a great job and, of course, Mika and Johnny. We couldn't finish the race but until that point we were just perfect. We're looking for the next one!"
Johnny Mowlem: "For me it's been an absolute pleasure and privilege to drive for Giuseppe and all the boys at Risi Competizione, and with Mika and Jaime. Even though it's been a long week, the whole thing has been such a pleasure because they are such a good bunch of people. I've had such a great time, especially my first couple of stints in the race when we were leading and I kept seeing p1, p1. I thought then this is my best opportunity to win my class at Le Mans but it all went wrong. I can't take anything away from anybody. We all did our utmost but it wasn't to be today."
Mika Salo: "It was a hard to finish like this. We were quickest all the time in the race, our pit stops went really well and the car was running fine. During the night the car was balanced, and it was absolutely perfect until Jaime hit the puddle of oil which came from another car and damaged our car. The mechanics tried very hard to fix it but it was too much. I want to say thanks though to all the guys because they worked really hard and in the end they didn't get the result, but at least the other car did well. I'd also like to thank Michelin as we triple stinted the tires during the night and with absolutely no problem."