Krohn Racing has been waiting all season for this week – to race in the United States, in their home state of Texas! Round Five of the 2013 FIA World Endurance Championship is September 20-22 at the Circuit of the Americas (COTA) in Austin, Texas.
Team owner/driver Tracy W. Krohn hails from nearby Houston, Texas, where he is also the Founder, CEO and Chairman of W&T Offshore (NYSE: WTI), an independent oil and natural gas acquisition, exploitation and exploration company, focused primarily in the Gulf of Mexico.
A gentleman driver in the GTE-Am class, Krohn’s co-drivers are long-time teammate and driving coach Nic Jönsson, originally from Sweden, now living in Atlanta, Georgia, and Ferrari driving instructor Maurizio Mediani of Scandiano, Italy.
Following David Brown’s departure last week, Tracy Krohn has hired Mark Schomann as the temporary Race Engineer and Jeff Glover as the temporary Team Manager, now on board for Austin.
Krohn Racing fields a Ferrari F458 in its signature “Krohn” lime green-and-blue livery, known around the globe. The team has competed in the 24 Hours of Le Mans seven times, placing on the podium four times (including one second-place finish and three third-place finishes), with four of the entries combined with Risi Competizione.
The International Sports Car Weekend at COTA will feature an American Le Mans Series (ALMS) race on Saturday and the FIA WEC 6 Hours of Austin race on Sunday, with practice and qualifying on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
QUOTES: TRACY W. KROHN, Krohn Racing Team Owner/Driver, No. 57 Krohn Racing Ferrari F458 GTE-Am: What will be the best thing about racing in Austin? “The best thing about racing in Austin is that it is in Austin which is really the hometown track for me! It's about a 25 minute flight from Houston and the logistics are just a lot easier! The track is very modern and well designed and presents both high and low risk passing zones.”
You are one of the WEC few drivers who have competed at Austin already, tell us a little about the circuit and what you like about it. “First, it is a very physical track. Second, it is most likely to be very hot for the race. With multiple classes, the heat, and the physicality of the track, driver "focus" will be a huge issue, particularly in GT classes as there will be some turns and transitions that it will be hard to get even a very quick look in the mirrors! With all of these factors, and the fact as stated above regarding high and low risk passing zones, there will likely be a good bit of carnage.”
NIC JONSSON, No. 57 Krohn Racing Ferrari 430 GTE-Am:
COTA will be a home town race for Krohn Racing and home country race in the USA. Talk about representing the team from Texas at the big international WEC race at COTA? “To have the opportunity to race on a world class team, as Krohn Racing is, in a world championship race at the team’s home country and state (Texas), makes it very special. My team owner, co-driver and good friend, Tracy Krohn, who has built a great world class team over the last six or seven years now gets a chance to show what this team can do on our home turf. It’s always very special to be the home team with the added media attention, family, friends, etc. that will be at the race, but, of course with this also comes expectations! But for us drivers and crew guys we will be doing the same thing that we always do so nothing really changes for us. We will stick to our routine and look forward to have a good race and result at this fantastic facility in front of many familiar faces.”
You are probably the only driver in the Paddock that has raced at COTA twice this year already – once in the Grand-Am race in March and once at the World Challenge race in May. Talk about the circuit and how it is to drive. “To have been to this new race track twice already this year gives me great confidence and ability to let Tracy and Maurizio get more time in the car in practice, The Grand-Am race was the same track configuration as we will be racing this weekend, but my visit to the track in World Challenge was on the short course. The track has a lot of challenging parts with high speed “S” combinations where you need to make sure you enter the corner right otherwise you will get in to trouble halfway through, long back straight with hard braking zone, and several big elevation changes that unload the car in a way you have to pay very close attention to so you do not lock up under braking. A very important element this weekend will be to pay close attention in our mirrors. The closing speed of the P1 and P2 cars are going to be greater than most other tracks we go to, just because of the track configuration with the combination corners where the ‘P’ cars can carry much more speed due to their superior downforce in comparison to the GT cars. It is very much a driver’s track so I'm really looking forward to this weekend.”
You’ve got a new Race Engineer starting at COTA. He brings a lot of Ferrari 458 experience to the Team. How will Mark fit in with Krohn Racing mid-season and what are your goals? “Mark is well known by the team and will fit right in. He ran the car for me and Tracy at Le Mans for three years, so we are used to working together and I don’t see any problems there., Our goals are the same as they have been ever since the beginning of the year and, as always, when we go racing, which is to win!. Mark has worked on Ferraris for several years now and knows the car well, so I think this should be a good and positive ingredient that Mark brings with him.”
MAURIZIO MEDIANI, No. 57 Krohn Racing Ferrari F458 GTE-Am:
COTA will be a new track for you but both of your teammates have driven here previously. How will you best get comfortable with the new track? “Like usual, I try to learn new circuit from the on-board camera, but the fact that both of my teammates know the circuit is an advantage for me, because I can learn quickly from them.”
Although the GTE-Am class is always competitive, how do you think the Ferrari 458 will compare on the COTA circuit? “This season we have had really bad balance of performance in comparison with the Aston Martin especially. I don't think there will be a big change from here to the end of the championship. We have to work hard to cancel our gap.”
You’ve got a new Race Engineer starting at COTA. Have you worked with Mark Schomann before? “Yes, I met Mark in 2006 when I was driving with the Risi Competizione team. He was my engineer in three races of ALMS. We did a good job together and I hope to have the same result now.”
Have you ever been to Texas? What are you looking forward to the most? “It is my first time in Texas. I'm looking for a big hat, Texas-style, the same that I see in the movies since I was kid.”
MARK SCHOMANN, Krohn Racing Race Engineer:
You have just joined the Krohn Racing team as the Race Engineer. Talk about working with Tracy Krohn and the Team and your experiences with the Ferrari 458. “I have previously worked with Tracy and the Krohn Racing team in past years. We have experienced success and have enjoyed working together. It is a great team that has just not had one of their better race seasons so far this year. I have been working with and on the Ferrari 458 engineering side since its inception, with race wins and numerous podium finishes with this very successful Ferrari.”
COTA is a new track for the WEC but both Tracy and Nic have previously driven there in different cars. How will you be able to translate data into workable information for the WEC event? “It will very helpful to me that Tracy and Nic have driven this track. I have not worked at this track yet but am very excited to be there for the first time. With the learning of the track out of the way the drivers can get right into helping me with set-up work to get car ready for the race.”
You have previously engineered a team in the WEC. How competitive do you find the GTE-Am class and the WEC Series in general? “I think it is one of the most competitive classes going. There are many talented Pro and Am drivers in the field, with very experienced teams running the cars. I am also the lead engineer for the Ram Racing team competing in the ELMS GTE Pro-Am series. Ram Racing is going into the last race at Paul Ricard in France with a large lead in the championship with Matt Griffin as one of the drivers. This weekend I will be working with Krohn Racing to beat Matt, among others, in one of the other GTE cars. It is a very competitive level of racing in this class.”