Krohn Racing press release
Krohn Racing Comes Home to Road Atlanta for Petit Le Mans
Krohn Racing will get to compete at its’ “home” circuit, Road Atlanta, this week for the Petit Le Mans race, officially titled Petit Le Mans Powered by Mazda Race for ILMC/American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patron. The 1,000 miles or 10 hour race has over 55 cars currently entered.
Krohn Racing team owner/driver Tracy W. Krohn, Nic Jönsson and Michele Rugolo are set to pilot their No. 57 Krohn Racing Ferrari 430 in the GTE-Am class from morning into the night at the 2.54-mile, 12-turn historical Road Atlanta circuit. The team calls Road Atlanta home because their shop is based on the Road Atlanta property near the front gate.
The Petit Le Mans race is round seven of eight on the 2012 Intercontinental Le Mans Cup Series (ILMC) calendar, where Krohn Racing currently sits third in the GTE-Am class. The regular American Le masn Series cars are also combining for a larger than average field of endurance sports cars.
TRACY W. KROHN, Krohn Racing Team Owner/Driver, No. 57 Krohn Racing Ferrari 430 GTE-Am:
You are getting ready to race at your “home” track of Road Atlanta. After having to learn and race on so many new tracks this season in the ILMC, tell us how you feel about coming “home” to America and to Road Atlanta. “It is so great to be back at Road Atlanta. We have all of our team available and our facilities and we will not be struggling too much for "setup" on the car as we do know the track so well. It will be good not to have to worry so much about logistics and passports and transportation issues as well. All we need do is focus on the best possible result! It is good for us to have a longer race as well!”
You have competed at the Petit Le Mans race a couple of times in the Ferrari 430 GT. What do you imagine it will be like competing on the 2.54-mile Road Atlanta circuit this year with over 50 cars with the combined ILMC and ALMS series? “It is certainly going to be busy and there will be lots of contact as usual. The real difficulty is that there is a lot of elevation and some blind turns and several different classes of cars, so if there is a spin or wreck in front of you then a lot of cars can pile up as a result. It does stay interesting to say the least!”
How challenging has the ILMC Series been this year? And in the GTE-Am class? “ILMC is a very new but very professional series. The category of GTE-AM just means that some of the drivers don't make their living as drivers, but that does not mean they are not professional drivers. It just is simply not their primary job function. There are so many cars at every race and the crowds have been very good. The biggest challenge is still looking forward and constantly checking rear view mirrors for faster cars in different classes.”
You have some history of driving at Road Atlanta – it is where you got your start with the Panoz Series. What do you like most about the circuit? ”The best thing about Road Atlanta is that it is a high speed technical track that challenges drivers to try to push harder because they think it can easily be tamed with bravado and machismo, but really demands patience and respect.”
NIC JONSSON, No. 57 Krohn Racing Ferrari 430 GTE-Am:
You are getting ready to race at your “home” track of Road Atlanta. After having to race on so many European tracks this season in the ILMC, tell us how you feel about coming “home” to America and to Road Atlanta. “Road Atlanta is the home track for Krohn Racing for the last seven years. I have lived in Georgia near the race track for the past eight years, so in one way it is now my home track. Coming to your home track and getting to sleep in home bed is a big difference. Otherwise, getting to race at tracks I’ve raced in Europe in the past was really exciting as well for me as well because there are a lot of people I know in Europe and I’ve had a chance to have family and friends come to those races. To be close to your family, have them come out and watch you race and come home and have dinner with them at night makes it more calm of a race week, therefore it is a big advantage.”
You have competed at the Petit Le Mans race a couple of times in the Ferrari 430 GT. This year will be a little different with so many cars, as they include both ILMC and ALMS entries. What do you imagine it will be like competing on the 2.54-mile Road Atlanta circuit this year with over 50 cars? “Tracy and I competed at Petit Le Mans before together but this will be the first time we compete here under the Krohn Racing banner at our home track and home base. That definitely adds some excitement that we are actually running with our own team. The car count is going to be very interesting. Road Atlanta is a very fast race track with a lot of flow to it. There’s not much time to let somebody by you and to let off, especially after Turn 3 and up to turn 5. If you are ahead of a prototype going into the esses, he needs to stay behind you because there is not a two-car line going down there. That’s where we have seen some people getting together and ending up going into the wall, purely because of impatience by the faster cars. I really hope that everyone realizes this is a ten hour race. That’s going to be the biggest challenge, to make sure we all work together and keep their patience and be smart about it.”
How challenging has the ILMC Series been this year? And in the GTE-Am class? “The competition in the GTE-Am class is stiffer than it is in the GTE-Pro class. We have world class drivers competing in this class all year. From Marc Leib to Patrick Long, there are a lot of competitive and very good drivers. It’s been an extremely competitive series and a very exciting series with a lot of manufacturers involved – from Corvette to Porsche to Ferrari. I think the Krohn Racing team has shown we are one of the quickest cars out there, always on pace, always running up front at each and every event. Unfortunately, we’ve had a few mechanical issues affecting our points standing after having won the first race at Sebring. There are a few things that haven’t gone our way but otherwise, in both practice and in the races, we have been one of the quickest cars. We are now third in points. It’s obviously a steep hill to climb to win the championship. We’re going to have to have some help with that. But we still have a good chance and to finish second or third in the championship, which I think is viable would be a great achievement the first time out in this series. We are the only team from America that goes to all the races. We’re on the road the most. That shows professionalism and a very strong organization at Krohn Racing. I can’t wait to get going this weekend and then have the finale in China in November. We get to recharge our batteries over the winter and hopefully come back and try to win the championship in 2012.”
What do you like best about the Road Atlanta circuit? “What I like about Road Atlanta is you have fast straightaways and really hard braking zones and you have some really technical parts where both speed and technique are involved, like going down the esses. It brings a lot of the elements you looks for in a race track for a driver to be able to manage. Also I think Road Atlanta has one of the biggest elevation changes there is at a race track, except for Spa in Belgium. Otherwise, I think Road Atlanta has the most elevation changes of any other track in the world. It makes it a little different, a little exciting. It has a lot of different small elements that I like about it. But as the complete package, I believe it is one of the most fun tracks there is in the world. “
MICHELE RUGOLO, No. 57 Krohn Racing Ferrari 430 GTE-Am:
Have you ever driven at Road Atlanta…and if so what did you race and when, including results? “I was at Road Atlanta twice in 2005, so I know the track. Even if it was many years ago, I still remember it. It’s a track I like very much, especially the Petit Le Mans race. I think it is one of the most important races in the world, like Sebring and Le Mans. It was an event that I always wanted to compete in. In 2005, I raced at an American Le Mans Series race and the Petit Le Mans, competing in a GT1 car, a Viper for another American team.”
If yes, what do you like best about the Road Atlanta circuit? “If you look at just the shape of the track, it is, more or less, like Imola with some corners and the up and down of the track. I think it is a kind of track I like very much and it should be good for my driving style. I’m happy and looking forward to the race there. I think I can be really competitive at Road Atlanta.”
You race with an American team who is coming to compete at their “home” track. What kind of advantage do you think that will give Krohn Racing? “Actually there are many advantages to race at Road Atlanta with Krohn Racing. It’s their own track and we’re going to have much information and data about the race track, like weather conditions, which is important in making the right choice for the tires. I think Dunlop tires are very good tires. They are a little bit sensitive from a temperature point of view. I think if we know the behavior of the tires at the track under different temperatures, it could be perfect for the race to be very fast always and to understand exactly when we can double stint with each set of tires and which type. This is one of the big advantages.
Another advantage is I have a lot of data and information coming from the engineers of telemetry from Nic and Tracy’s testing. This will be very valuable for me to be immediately faster by understanding exactly the gears, the correct braking points and other things. I have a lot of reference points. Nic is quicker everywhere, but especially at Road Atlanta. This is a huge advantage we will have. Also, Tracy knows the track very well so he will be faster. He knows which the tricky points at the track are. These are the big advantages we will have at Road Atlanta compared to the other teams that have been to this track only a couple of times. It is very important for me to achieve the same result we had at Sebring. We have been really unlucky during all the season for many problems, although we have been fast. I think it is important to finish the season with another good result as we did when we started the season with a victory at Sebring.”
How challenging has the ILMC Series been this year? And the GTE-Am class? “It’s been very, very difficult because in each car there was a professional driver. In all the Ferrari cars there was a really good driver. Also the amateur drivers were very fast. There was no possibility to do any mistakes. We won Sebring because the car was totally reliable. We didn’t have any problems. The pit stops of our team have been perfect and we didn’t have any mistakes the entire race, so we won the race. In Silverstone we didn’t have any technical problems and no problems with the pit stops, but we had some problems during the race that were not our fault, especially with faster prototypes. We didn’t achieve a good result. It means this series is really difficult, much more than I was expecting at the beginning of the season. It is much better when you compare against other tough teams it is always much nicer to win races. But, for sure, it is much more difficult.”
DAVID BROWN, Krohn Racing Team Manager/Race Engineer:
The team and the drivers are going to be competing at their “home” track this weekend at Petit Le Mans. Does that give Krohn Racing somewhat of an advantage. If so, how. “We know the track and the drivers know their way round so we can concentrate on good preparation for the race. I’m sure we will adjust the car to suit the conditions and we are really looking forward to racing here as Krohn Racing for the first time.”
Because Krohn Racing does most of their testing at Road Atlanta, you undoubtedly have a lot of data about the Ferrari 430 on this circuit. How/where does it best perform on this particular circuit? “Like everywhere, Road Atlanta is a track of compromises. There are some fast corners and some slow; there are places crucial for overtaking and others where it’s easy to overdrive. These are the lessons we will carry into the race weekend.”
Both Tracy and Nic have competed in a Ferrari 430 at the Petit Le Mans with Risi Competizione in 2007-2008 and to some success (4th in 2008). This year all the drivers face a huge field of combined ILMC and ALMS competitors. Talk about some of your thoughts about this year’s event and the large field. “It’s quite a short track with 53 cars on it, but as always, the drivers need to have mutual respect and drive diligently with the target of completing all 1000 miles with the car unscathed.”
Krohn Racing won the GTE-Am class at the other 2011 American ILMC race – the 12 Hours of Sebring. What will it take to win in the GTE-Am class at Petit Le Mans? “It’s a tough competition, and that’s one of its attractions. We need to complete the distance without any incidents, without contact with other cars on track and with only regular servicing in the pits throughout the race. The car must be fast enough to compete at the front. In terms of pace, it must be reliable and our pit work must be precise and faultless. Then the drivers can race to the end and achieve a great result.”