The penultimate race will be held at the Fuji International Speedway, located at the base of the volcano, and boasts one of the longest straight in motorsports, at 1.5 km, or .93 miles in length. Built in the 1960’s Fuji’s current configuration was revised in 2005 and is 4.563 km (2.835 miles) in length with 16 turns.
This weekend’s race will be the first visit to the Oyama, Japan circuit for the WEC and two of the Krohn Racing drivers. Nic Jönsson competed in the Formula Asia Series in the early 1990’s with the old track configuration.
TRACY W. KROHN, Krohn Racing Team Owner/Driver, No. 57 Krohn Racing Ferrari F458 GTE-Am:
Krohn Racing had their third podium finish of the year at Bahrain - all third place finishes. Do you think they can climb up a step or two in Japan? “We had a very good car in Bahrain and had we not had the fuel rig failure, we would have had a much better chance of winning.
There was an apparent failure in the fuel coupling that was a manufacturing defect that did not present itself until late in the season, so we can definitely improve!”
At 42 points out of the lead, what do you think Krohn Racing’s chances are in the final championship points chase? “We have an outside chance to win, but the math is getting very gloomy! We simply have to win both races and hope that our competitors have some problems of their own!”
Fuji is yet another new circuit for you and most all of the drivers. How are you learning this new track? “We all must learn from the simulator and the promoter test day. We will also walk the track when it is possible.”
What have you found to be the most challenging thing about the GTE-Am class this season? “GTE-Am class is very difficult because you have to rationalize looking forward with looking in your rear view mirrors. Drivers are passing or being passed just about every lap.
Judging the speed of the oncoming cars is always difficult especially at night, but even in the day time one must make very rapid decisions about traffic.
Those of us that do not do this for livings always struggle to come up to speed against the touring professionals and that is always a challenge, but one which I really enjoy!
There is a lot of personal satisfaction in a pass made of any car, but there is a lot more satisfaction when one passes a touring professional driver!”
Are you looking forward to eating sushi in Japan? “Good fresh sushi is one of my favorite foods to eat and Japan is the best place on the planet for sushi. I would also like to visit the fish market while we are in Tokyo!”
NIC JONSSON, No. 57 Krohn Racing Ferrari F458 GTE-Am:
You used to live and race in Japan so please share with us a few things about that time in your life and thoughts on returning to Japan... “I used to live in Japan in early 1990s in the Formula Asia Series with Honda and was stationed at the base of Fuji Mountain.
It will be a lot of fun for me going back. I know the track has changed a little bit and it is not the same configuration as when I lived and raced there. I’m sure it’s going to be very similar though as far as the culture and things around there.
The Japanese people are enthusiastic and particular about their racing. They are huge race fans and I’m confident there will be a great crowd. It’s almost like a homecoming for me. I hope to go back and have a good race.”
Krohn Racing got their third podium finish of the year at Bahrain - all third place finishes. Do you think they can climb up a step or two in Japan? “I have no doubt that we can.
We’ve had a few podium positions this year and it has mainly been bad luck that has kept us from the top step this year. We had an incredible run at Le Mans with a third place finish.
And then we had a very good car and run at Silverstone, even though we had a couple of incidents with prototype cars. At Brazil we probably had the best car of the year, but the accident on the first lap produced a DNF (did not finish) result.
We came back at Bahrain with a lot of positives. Tracy had one of his best races ever, running very consistent and strong in comparison to the other Am (amateur) drivers.
I feel that we have a good platform for the car. David has been able to get a little extra out of the car without sacrificing any time. I think we’re in a very good spot. We have a couple of very tough competitors.
From a pure speed perspective, the 61 Ferrari F458 car has been very fast. Consistency wise, I think we have the best car. We don’t need any luck, just not bad luck, and I think we’ll be in a good position for success in Japan this weekend.”
What have you found to be the most challenging thing about the GTE-Am class this season? “I think the most challenging thing at the beginning of the year was mainly mechanical things with the new car that we couldn’t control ourselves.
That was frustrating early on because we lost out a little bit, especially at Sebring with the gear box pump breaking. We had a few other issues at Le Mans through practice and qualifying.
Otherwise, the challenging part is the competition. It gets stiffer and stiffer. There are many experienced and world-class drivers in the Series so you can never let down.
You have to be on top of your game every time you go out and try to learn as much as possible about the car to get the ultimate set-up. I don’t think that’s going to change much moving forward.
With new tracks, it’s always a challenge with new surroundings, to know where to go, how to get back and forth from the track, where to eat and what to eat in the towns and so much more.”
Are you looking forward to eating sushi in Japan? “Funny you ask that. I don’t have any good sushi place recommendations. Since everyone on the team knows I lived there for three years, I know they are going to ask.
Back then I didn’t eat sushi. I have only started eating sushi in the past five years or so. I have to go back and get a little of the local culture. I definitely will be eating sushi.
I have to try the real thing. I know a good place is not hard to find and I will try it in Japan for sure!”
MICHELE RUGOLO, No. 57 Krohn Racing Ferrari F458 GTE-Am:
Krohn Racing got their third podium finish of the year at Bahrain - all third place finishes. Do you think they can climb up a step or two in Japan? “I think it was already possible in Bahrain so I think we can be competitive in Japan as well. We just need a bit more luck!”
At 42 points out of the lead, what do you think Krohn Racing’s chances are in the final championship points chase? “I think is impossible to win the championship. Now we just need to race for our satisfaction and to try to finish third in the championship. We need some wins for the team!”
Fuji is yet another new circuit for you and most all of the drivers. How are you learning this new track? “This will be my first time at Fuji.
Fortunately, Fuji has an extra test day like we had in Zhuhai last year so I think that is going to help a lot. However, we will work like always watching video and maybe doing a track walk.”
What have you found to be the most challenging thing about the GTE-Am class this season? “All the drivers are learning the circuits more and more so the challenge is very tight.
This year there was the problem with the calculation of the points. With a one car team, it was almost impossible to compete for the final win.”
Are you looking forward to eating sushi in Japan? “It is always exciting to taste new food!”
DAVID BROWN, Krohn Racing Team Manager/Race Engineer:
Krohn Racing had a tough luck at Bahrain when there was a problem with the fueling rig and you lost several laps with the repair and subsequent refueling, which could have potentially won the race. What has been done to resolve this issue? “We are yet to fully resolve this issue.
Our investigation will continue when we are re-united with the car in Japan. Certainly we are confident we will find the problem and solve it before the race.”
What kinds of preparation for the next race do you do following the previous race and what do you do on-site at the new venue location? “We have some parts to change for mileage control for reliability, ratios to suit the track and a start setup to put on the car.
We have a slightly different build configuration for Fuji, with different parts. We will also be applying whatever remedial measures we need to solve our fueling issue.”
What has been the most challenging part of learning a new race car during the thick of the racing season? “The limited running time restricts what we test. We have to be very focused on the race from the first run in practice.
Our program is built back from the end of the race, which means everything we do is in the context of producing the best result we can.
This doesn’t afford us the luxury of testing at the more extreme limits of car behavior; it instills a level of conservatism in the car setup and configuration.
Not to say we don’t try and often use some unusual concepts! We just have to take a cold hard look at all we do in the right context.”
JEFF HAZELL, Krohn Racing Motorsport Manager:
At 42 points out of the lead, what are Krohn Racing’s chances are in the final championship points chase? “Well, first I have to acknowledge a job well done by Team Felbermayr-Proton.
Unlike Labre, Febermayr have not had the benefit of scoring points at Sebring as Labre did without even finishing the race! Nor have they had two cars with which to collect points, or the benefit of double points from winning Le Mans.
In fact they came away from Le Mans with nothing. So although they are second to Labre in the points, for me they are so far the true and deserving leaders of GT-Am, winners of 4 out of 6 races.
We are 36 points behind them, so with two races to go I think we may put champagne on ice for a couple of race wins but not to celebrate a Championship. Anyway, it will be enjoyed!
You have to deal with the day-to-day logistics and any issues that are thrown to the team, which are numerous during international travel. What has been the most challenging to date about competing in this global series? “Bureaucracy! It is remarkably frustrating running the obstacle course of some nations visa processing.
I also love some of the customs regulations. Woe is you if you import a fire extinguisher or an aerosol and then use it because you will be leaving the contents in that country so you must pay import duty!
It's been that way for decades and is amazing! There are so many quirky things which are not too significant but quite time consuming.”
Source: Krohn Racing