What does it take to last 12 hours at Sebring?
Sebring, Fla., March 10, 2014....Krohn Racing returns this weekend to Sebring International Raceway for the legendary 62nd Annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh from Florida, March 15, where the team has seen the podium in multiple racing series. Krohn Racing will compete at the grueling Florida track in the GT Le Mans (GTLM) class of the newly formed IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, and while the team is expecting tough, factory-backed competition, the experienced crew and drivers are optimistic that their knowledge of this road course will help bring success once again.
During a test last month at the historic raceway, Krohn Racing was able to run in the Top 3 of the GTLM class, and with Ferrari factory driver Andrea Bertolini again joining Tracy W. Krohn and Nic Jonsson in the No. 57 Ferrari F458 for the race, Krohn Racing is hoping to repeat their 2011 class win at the 12 Hours of Sebring.
On top of returning to Sebring International Raceway after having not competed there in 2013, Tracy Krohn and Nic Jonsson are celebrating another milestone: their 100th race together. The duo is in their 11th season sharing the Krohn Racing cockpit, and this weekend's event marks their 100th race as co-drivers.
No. 57 Krohn Racing Ferrari on track at Sebring International Raceway TRACY W. KROHN, Krohn Racing Team Owner/Driver, No. 57 Krohn Racing Ferrari F458 GTLM: In 2011, Krohn Racing won in class at Sebring. Last year you didn't race there at all. What are you focusing on for this year's race to make it to the top step of the podium again? "Sebring demands very detailed attention to durability and consistency. It's a very bumpy track with some hard braking zones and high speed and blind turns. I think of it as a 'faith' track, you have to believe! When you throw in multiple classes such as what we have with the Tudor Series, then your 'faith' has to be in the car setup and the drivers around you as well."
Sebring is known for being a tough circuit. How do you put aside the physical and mental strain that a 12-hour endurance race at the bumpy circuit puts on the body and concentrate on each stint? "Actually, you don't put aside the physical and mental issues with this race, you just confront it and know that when you finish, you will have been in a really physical contest that tests all drivers. It's also good to know that you have a co-driver or two! This race always feels much longer than it is. I am always a little worn out the next day."
This event will be your 100th race with longtime co-driver Nic Jonsson. How have you two managed to compete successfully together for so long? "It really has been a great experience for me to drive with such a talented and experienced driver. Nic is a consummate professional and very meticulous in his approach to every single race. He always tries to figure out a way to make the car and situation better and has done his best to impart that information to the team and me at all times. That is why this partnership has survived for the last ten years with a driver such as myself, who does not rely on this sport to make a living. This is a business that happens to be an entertainment venue. Nic has taught me a great deal about race craft and myself. He is always prepared and always gets in the car with a clear objective and when conditions are most difficult, he always figures out a way to get the best out of the car that he is in at that moment. That is what professionals do. I am already looking forward to race number 200!"
You weren't able to be at the Sebring test, but this track is nothing new to you. This will actually be your seventh year competing at the 12 Hours of Sebring. What is your favorite part of racing at such an historic circuit? "This race is truly an event and attracts a great crowd, great drivers, and superb race teams. The best thing about this race is being able to compete with fantastic athletes and beautiful machines with such a knowledgeable and fun loving crowd on a world-renowned track. I am fortunate to be able to have these memories, especially knowing how rare it is to be able to do so."
NIC JONSSON, Driver, No. 57 Krohn Racing Ferrari F458 GTLM: Coming straight from a 24-hour endurance race to a 12-hour endurance race, how do you stay at the top of your game? "Coming from the 24-hour race in Daytona, the biggest difference to Sebring is that this event is much more physical due to the track lay out with its 17 corners, some of which are very fast and have high lateral load along with hard braking zones. Also, the track surface at Sebring is very rough and bumpy, so your body takes a lot of beating. Just like any other endurance race, you have to make sure to hydrate properly and eat enough and make sure you keep your energy level up. To make sure you stay on top of the game, you just have to keep working out and prepare yourself as best as possible."
This season marks your 11th year with Krohn Racing and your 100th race with Tracy Krohn. What has it taken to have such a long and successful career with the same team and team owner/driver? "It's an incredible fortune to have been able to be with the same team for such long time and to be able to reach the 100th race with Tracy as my co-driver. It takes a lot of respect for each other and for what every team member does. We believe in and trust each other no matter what, and over the course of 11 years, we have had tough times and very difficult situations, but I'm fortunate enough to work with people like Tracy Krohn and a team like Krohn Racing. Tracy understands that there will be ups and downs in a sport like ours, so we get an opportunity to work through those issues. I also believe it's an advantage to have our team owner also as a driver, because he can appreciate the difficulties better than just sitting on the side line and hearing all the feed back with out really know what it feels like. I've also been very fortunate to become good friends with Tracy and his extended family, who have always made me feel like part of the family."
ANDREA BERTOLINI, Driver, No. 57 Krohn Racing Ferrari F458 GTLM: You've competed in endurance races for most of your career. What does it take to make it through a 12-hour race like Sebring? "Sebring is a really special circuit because is has a very irregular surface. It's very bumpy and rough on the driver, and you have to work on the car's set-up a lot. With 60 cars on track, you have to focus obviously on driving fast in the traffic and making it to the end!"
In 2012, you won in the GTE-Pro class at Sebring. How are you planning to repeat a victory there? "Everyone will be at Sebring for the same goal...to win. This race, much like the last one in Daytona, will be decided during the last half hour or so. It will be important for us to be on the same lap as our competitors at the end, then we will put maximum pressure on them so we can fight to the front."
HAYDEN BURVILL, Krohn Racing Engineer: The Krohn car had a strong run at Daytona. What changes have you made to suit the Sebring road course? "The set-up of the car was very consistent at Daytona, running fast speeds throughout all 24 hours of the race. We encountered some hardships that cost us laps, some through contact with other cars and some through technical issues. Part of the test in Sebring was used to eliminate those technical issues so that the race at Sebring is not impacted in the same way. In Daytona, we were necessarily preoccupied by the top speed pace of the GTD category cars and how that influenced our set-up and race strategy. Coming to Sebring, there have been some changes to the BOP (Balance of Performance) that alter the relative speeds of the GTLM and GTD category cars, as does the nature of Sebring as a racing circuit. The GTLM cars enjoy sufficient advantages at Sebring that we can focus purely on the traditional issues at Sebring, stability over the bumps and stability on the brakes. All the basic suspension settings on the F458 are different from Daytona to Sebring. In addition, we run a much higher downforce level at Sebring, so in essence, although it's still the Krohn Racing green, this is a very different #57 from the car we raced in January."
During the Sebring test, Krohn ran in the Top 3 of the GTLM field and gathered some valuable data. What are your expectations for the team at the race? "Once again, Krohn Racing cooperated with Risi Competizione at the test to develop a great starting set-up for Sebring and we were able to further improve that over the course of the 2-day test. The most obvious takeaway from the test is the performance of the Porsche 911s. They demonstrated a clear superiority over the rest of us in GTLM and I would expect that same advantage to prevail in the race. Between the Corvette, Viper, BMW and Ferrari, things are much closer and although we finished third on the speed chart on Friday, lap times were very tight with every other GTLM car. If we have successfully put the technical issues of Daytona behind us and manage to keep out of trouble for 12 hours, then my expectation is for hard racing in the GTLM class over the full distance. Daytona provided close racing at the end of 24 hours, so we should aim for and prepare for tight racing right through the end of the 12 hours in Sebring."
The green flag will drop on the 62nd Annual 12 Hours of Sebring at 10:15 a.m. EDT on March 15.