WEC

Krohn Racing seeks podium finish at 6 Hours of Spa

Krohn Racing

Krohn Racing Returns to Spa-Francorchamps Seeking Podium Finish at the WEC 6 Hours of Spa

#57 Krohn Racing Ferrari F458 Italia: Tracy Krohn, Nic Jonsson, Michele Rugolo
#57 Krohn Racing Ferrari F458 Italia: Tracy Krohn, Nic Jonsson, Michele Rugolo

Photo by: Eric Gilbert

The USA-based Krohn Racing Ferrari F458 Team of owner/driver Tracy W. Krohn, Nic Jönsson and Michele Rugolo travel to Spa, Belgium this week for Round 2 of the FIA World Endurance Championship. The 6 Hours of Spa race will be held on Saturday, May 5 at the 7.004 kilometer Spa-Francorchamps Circuit.

Forty-one cars are pre-entered for this prestigious event at the historic Spa circuit, only the second round of an 8-race championship series. Krohn Racing will compete in popular No. 57 green-and-blue liveried Ferrari F458 in the GTE-Am class. The Krohn Team finished fifth in class at Round 1 of the 12 Hours of Sebring in Sebring, Florida on March 17.

TRACY W. KROHN, Team Owner/Driver No. 57 Krohn Racing Ferrari F458 GTE-Am:

Round 1 of the WEC at Spa starts the first of six 6-hour races for 2012. Talk about how the team’s strategy changes between a 6-hour race and a 12- or 24-hour race. “A six-hour race at Spa will be a full sprint race for everyone. Although the WEC is an ‘endurance’ championship, for these six hour races everyone will be driving as fast as they can and trying not to make any mistakes. Our strategy will be the same.”

You didn’t have the result you were hoping for at the 12 Hours of Sebring with a repeat victory but managed to pull off a Top Five. Talk about the team’s goals for 2012 in the WEC. “Our goal has always been to win. No one wants to finish in second place, and certainly not fifth place. We are going for the GTE-Am championship so points will be key this year. With the problems we had at Sebring, we knew we had to acquire as many points as we could at the end. So we did what we had to. We’ll try to make up for it this weekend.”

This will be your second time racing at Spa. What do you find are the most challenging things about the Spa circuit? “The Spa circuit is quite fast with many high downforce areas. Our Ferrari is a good downforce car so I’m very excited to get back out there with the F458 and see what we can do. Taking the Eau Rogue corner at a maximum speed is an experience one doesn’t soon forget.”

The Spa entry list will be a little different than Sebring. There won’t be the addition of all the ALMS cars like at Sebring, but there will be some additional European entries. Which do you expect is more challenging and why? “Sebring was a challenging race. It always is because the track beats you to death. Fortunately, we’ve raced there many times so our comfort level is good. Spa is less so. This will only be my second race at Spa and only Nic’s third. Of course, Michele, being a European, grew up racing at Spa. He was a big help last year in helping Nic, and especially me, get up to speed. These European drivers grew up at Spa, so they will have the advantage.”

NIC JONSSON, Driver, No. 57 Krohn Racing Ferrari F458 GTE-Am:

The Spa race is expected to have more competitors that will compete in the WEC series –over 40 cars are pre-entered. How difficult will it be with that many cars of varying speeds racing on the Spa circuit? “I think it will be the same as before. You have to keep a lot of attention to the fast cars. The small track at Spa has a lot of sweeping corners. The speed difference is greater, with much more speed through the corners. That will be the main thing -- to keep an eye ahead of you and who is coming up to let people by. You may have to lose a second or two not to jeopardize your own race as well as someone else’s. Otherwise Spa and Sebring will be pretty similar, in my opinion.

Round 2 of the WEC at Spa starts the first of six 6-hour races for 2012. Talk about how the team’s strategy changes between a 6 hour race and a 12- or 24-hour race. “A six hour race is definitely a sprint race in today’s WEC series. A team has to come prepared and the equipment has to be good. You have to be on the ball all the time, make no mistakes on the track or in the pits. Everyone running is flat out. We treat it like any sprint race. You are going to have to go as fast as you can to be running up front, I think.”

You didn’t have the result you were hoping for at the 12 Hours of Sebring with a repeat victory but managed to pull off a Top Five. Talk about the team’s goals for 2012 in the WEC. “The Sebring event was a huge disappointment for us. We have this brand new Ferrari F458 which had performed well in winter practice and the Sebring test. Then during the race we find a mechanical issue that didn’t have anything to do with us. It was just a cheap part that gave in about five hours into the race. That put us behind and we had to manage to get as many points as possible. Our expectation and goals at Spa are to win. Our toughest competition, Labre Corvette and Luxury Ferrari have good driver line-up and good teams behind them and Spa will be their home turf. Both of those teams race a couple of times a year at Spa versus us once a year. We have the driver line-up to compete for podium at Spa and everywhere we go this year.”

How important will your Dunlop tires be at Spa? “The Dunlop tires have performed very well for us since we got them last year. The engineers and people we work with have been very good. Dunlop is doing some testing in Europe to get even better and make improvements. In sports car racing we are competing again once of the best, Michelin. The qualifying tire we have is not quite to the level of performance as Michelin yet but improving. I have all the confidence in the world going in to the season and the upcoming race at Spa that I think the tires will be very good for us and we will be able to run up front.”

MICHELE RUGOLO, Driver, No. 57 Krohn Racing Ferrari F458 GTE-Am:

The Spa race is expected to have more competitors that will race in the WEC series – over 40 cars are pre-entered. How difficult will it be with that many cars of varying speeds racing on the Spa circuit? “I think it will be difficult but less so than Sebring. In the States we were 56 cars on a 6 km track. Here the track is more than 7 km and there are many more straight lines.”

You are one of the European drivers who grew up racing at Spa. What do you find most challenging and who do you like best about the circuit? “I love the Spa circuit. It is for sure one my favorite tracks. I think the most challenging part, where you can gain or lose time, is on Malmedy and Double Gauche corners, but my favorite part is Eau Rouge, Raidillon and Blanchimont.”

Having competed in several different Ferrari models over the years at Spa, would you consider it a good track for the Ferrari F458? Why or why not? “I think Spa will be perfect for Ferrari 458 GT2.This is a very fast track and you need a lot of downforce and this car has it. I think it will be a super feeling to do that kind of corners.”

How important will the Dunlop tires be at Spa? “Tires are always important. They can really make the difference. I think Dunlop is a very good factory and we have worked very well with them. I think with Sebring's experience we'll have a good product for Spa.”

DAVID BROWN, Krohn Racing Team Manager/Race Engineer:

Round 2 of the WEC at Spa starts the first of six 6-hour races for 2012. Talk about how the team’s strategy changes between a 6 hour race and a 12- or 24-hour race. “For us the six hour race has a sprint feel to it! The race will be more intense and we will be racing at full pace for the entire six hours. All our strategy will be designed to be as fast as we can at all times and to be in the best position at the end! Sebring has an element of positioning for the sprint at the end, but Spa and the other six hour races will not be like that.”

The Spa entry will be a little different than Sebring. There won’t be the addition of all the ALMS cars like at Sebring, but there will be some additional European entries. Which do you expect is more challenging and why? How do you overcome it? “Spa will have fewer yellow periods than Sebring. The GTE-AM entry is very strong, reflecting the importance of the class and its relevance in international endurance racing today. The challenges are different. Spa will be more of straight, gloves off, bloody battle than Sebring. It will be very close right up to the end. Our competition is all good teams with good driver line-ups and we will have to be fast, consistent and reliable win.”

Would you consider Spa a good circuit for the Ferrari F458? Why/why not? “The 458 will work well at Spa. It’s a well balanced car, easier for the drivers to drive close to the limit, which is a strong characteristic at such a challenging track as Spa.”

How important will the Dunlop tires be at Spa? “Our experience with Dunlop is that they will be an asset to us. We have a good compound range and good technical support.”

JEFF HAZELL, Krohn Racing Motorsports Manager:

You have been very involved in the logistics of getting this U.S. based team to Europe for the next three WEC rounds at Spa, Le Mans and Silverstone. What have you found was the most challenging and why? “The challenge has been that we have shipped the car and equipment out of Atlanta, not just for the next three European rounds, but for all the seven remaining events over 6 months. This has been made much more difficult by the 2012 WEC rule (introduced without consultation) that has forbidden bringing USA-sized race transporters into the Spa and Silverstone paddocks, even though they are permitted on the European highways and are allowed into the Le Mans paddock! The WEC then allow the European trucks permitted into the Spa and Silverstone paddocks to be extended beyond the maximum permitted EU and USA highways dimensions! So, instead of US based teams sending out their transporters on the trans-Atlantic ferry, we have had to freight the entire team into the UK and rent transporters locally.”

How difficult is it put your racing team on the road internationally for six months? “It is not difficult to do this with experience, sufficient resources and timely planning. It becomes a matter of making sure that the multitude of tasks all get completed in good time. Krohn have many team members with years of world championship racing experience and this is a massive help in foreseeing the requirements and executing the operation effectively and cost efficiently. However, the event schedule this year with two weeks between races in Brazil, Bahrain, Fuji and Shanghai leaves little time for car preparation and crew rest between events and it is to be hoped that with more time to arrange the 2013 schedule the WEC will have three weeks in between races. “

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