Risi-Krohn Ferrari Team Returns to Sebring Seeking Endurance Success The Krohn-Risi Ferrari team is excited to be back at Sebring International Raceway for the 58th annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring presented by Fresh from Florida on ...
Risi-Krohn Ferrari Team Returns to Sebring Seeking Endurance Success
The Krohn-Risi Ferrari team is excited to be back at Sebring International Raceway for the 58th annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring presented by Fresh from Florida on Saturday, March 20th. The No. 61 "Krohn green" Ferrari 430 GTE, driven by Krohn Racing team owner/driver Tracy W. Krohn, Nic J0x00f6nsson and Eric van de Poele, will be looking to add another podium to their endurance portfolio.
Krohn Racing and Risi Competizione, both of Houston, Texas, are partnering for a fourth season to field a Ferrari 430 GTE in the very competitive GT2 class at both Sebring and ALMS Monterey 6-hour race on May 22. The threesome finished third at the 2008 running of the once-around-the-clock Central Florida historic enduro race and was sixth in class last year. Additional, the three Risi-Krohn drivers will also compete in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in June, seeking a third podium finish in four years. The Risi-Krohn Ferrari finished second in 2007 and third in 2009 at the classic French endurance race.
The sister No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 430 GTE of Gianmaria Brunni, Jaime Melo and Pierre Kaffer are seeking to repeat the phenomenal Risi Competizione endurance success at this year's Sebring 12-hour race. Their enviable success includes victories at the 2008 24 Hours of Le Mans and Petit Le Mans, and the 2009 12 Hours of Sebring, 24 Hours of Le Mans and Petit Le Mans.
TRACY W. KROHN, Krohn Racing Team Owner, Risi-Krohn Ferrari Driver: You have had a lot of racing success as a driver in the Risi-Krohn Ferrari 430 with 2 podiums at Le Mans and a podium at Sebring. How do you feel about getting back in the car again? "It is always really good to get back in the Ferrari 430 GT-2. It is a very well sorted car and improvements occur every year, so I can't wait to see what else has changed and how it will feel and react!"
The Risi-Krohn partnership for these endurance races with the Ferrari obviously works well. What are the components that make things come together for your many successes? "First, the car is very predictable and as I stated before, very well sorted. Second, Risi has had great success with this car and is a very well run organization that has the results to back it up. They work hard at improving on success. Third, we have very experienced drivers overall, but also with this particular car. Nic J0x00f6nsson and Eric Van de Poele are easy to work with and we all feel the car pretty much the same which means driver styles are fairly similar, except that Eric right foot brakes, but the placement of the brake pedal in the foot box is of no concern since Nic and I left foot brake and where the brake pedal is placed relative to the throttle really does not have any impact. Last, but not least, getting back in the car, I know that it will be better than it was before and that gives any driver more confidence."
In the past you have said you like the Sebring track. What do you like best about it and what is the most satisfying thing about the track to get right as a driver? "I do like this track, but not for what would be obvious reasons so much as personal challenges. The track is very bumpy and thus it just relentlessly beats the crap out of a driver, especially in GT class. The result is that a 12 hour race feels like a 36 hour race when it is over. Sebring is also a very technical track and slight changes can make big gains or losses with regard to line. There are about 1400 different lines through turn 17, so a lot of time is lost or gained in just that one turn. Maximizing the speed off the corners at 17 and 1 always are determining factors in lap time for me at this track. The car has to be set up to manage those turns of course, but there are also very hard braking zones at this track and being so bumpy, it makes for some really interesting dynamics to get that balanced correctly."
The GT2 class is very competitive. What or who do you find the most challenging? "The GT class is always competitive and challenging, but GT cars are not for GT drivers in ALMS. The closing velocity between the GT cars and the prototypes can be huge so that is where the art is in this series for GT drivers in that we must be constantly looking out the front of the car and checking mirrors to make sure of where the prototypes are. GT competition should be phenomenal this year with all the new entries and I am really looking forward to getting back on this track and this team to see how we stack up with the rest of the GT field."
NIC JONSSON, Risi-Krohn Ferrari Driver: You, Tracy and Eric are back together in the Risi-Krohn Ferrari for another endurance race. You have had quite a bit of success with this program. What is it that works so well for all of you? "I think there are a number of reasons. One is that the Risi Competizione-Krohn team prepares a fantastic race car. The platform of the 430 GT2 Ferrari is a very reliable platform that has been around for the last 4-5 years and the car is very well developed. We hope that will be the same this year as they have done quite a few upgrades to the car this year. From both the engine aspect and aerodynamics, brakes, bigger tires and wheels and so forth. I also think that the experience of endurance racing pays off, especially since Eric and I have been doing it very long. We know that one lap pace has an impact on a 1-2 or 24-hour race. Of course you have to have somewhat of a decent pace to be able to run up front. But I think it is more about taking care of the equipment, make sure that all of the drivers are comfortable in the car. You have to be forgiving and sacrifice for your teammate so you can get the best out of all three of us as a team. That's something that has worked out really well for us the past few years with podium finishes and both Sebring and Le Mans. I think we're going to have to carry on in the same fashion as we have and not go out there and try to set the world on fire. We know that we are not running this car as a primary car for the full year. We benefit from the development that Risi does for the whole season. We have to come in there and hopefully have a reliable car and do a good job again without trying to prove anything. Basically, we need to just be there, stay out of trouble, drive at a decent pace and hopefully we'll be there at the end."
What is the toughest or best part of the Sebring race track (as in the most satisfying to get it right)? "The toughest is obviously there are 17 corners at the Sebring track. It is one of the longest racetracks we go to with all the different elements that a good race track can ask for. It has long, long straightaway with very hard braking zones and not so hard braking zones like a 180 degree braking corner. There are fast sweepers. It has everything really except elevation changes. If they don't have that, they have a lot of elevation changes with the bumps in the corners. It is a very, very bumpy. That's one of the bigger challenges is to get that car to handle the bumps and not to be too harsh with the brakes on the car and at the same time, be able to get the mechanical grip to go pretty quick around there. I think that's the toughest part.
The most satisfying part is when you get that car that is very comfortable to drive and running a fast race pace and if you have the fortune as we have had in the last few years to also end up on the podium, taking the checkered flag in the dark with the fireworks shooting off. It's a fantastic feeling to know that you've been doing a 12-hour race with your two buddies in the car and you have achieved such a good result to be on the podium. That is the most satisfying part of it!"
What make driving the Ferrari 430 GTE car so special, especially at Sebring? "I think every time you drive a Ferrari, especially with a factory tie like this program has, it's just fantastic. Very, very few race car drivers in the world have the fortune to drive a Ferrari connected to the factory. That is historically the most famous race car, most famous successful factory ever with success at building race cars. It gives me goose bumps every time I even think about driving a Ferrari. Dealing with the engineers with Ferrari and management is a fantastic feeling. It's an honor to be a part of that group of drivers fortunate enough to represent the Ferrari brand. Of course, doing that in the fashion we have been able to do the past few years with stepping on the podium at both Le Mans and Sebring is something that is going to stick to your memory for the rest of your life. Hopefully for your friends and family as well will look at it when I get older and retire one day as an interesting career, and one of the big moments was to drive a Ferrari and represent the Ferrari family in the most prestigious races in the world."
Who do you think will be the toughest competition? "There are a lot of not just good drivers, but it's a fantastic event with good and professional race teams -- from drivers to mechanics to truckies. It's an enormously competitive race series we're going into. I couldn't really pick just one very difficult competitor. I think you're going to see 10-12 very, very closely matched and competitive race cars. I think the biggest competition I going to be ourselves. We have to keep our head cool, do what we are there to do, stay out of trouble, run our own pace and stick to our strategy. If we can do that, I'm pretty convinced we'll have a good result. If we start to try to get too much involved and caught up in what everybody else is doing and chasing lap times in practice and stuff, the risk factor goes up and it's very easy to make a mistake. That's something that we've been very good at the last few years and I think that's one of the reasons we have been achieving the results we have because we're sticking to our own strategy. We know that we're not a regular in the series but we are coming in, looking in from the outside. Anything we can do in the top 5-7 will be extremely pleased. Of course you always go to the racetrack to win. That's our goal but you also need to keep a realistic view of it so you don't get disappointed if you don't reach that top of the podium because the competition is so fierce. With the factory Corvettes, BMWs, Jaguars, Ferraris, Porsches, it's unbelievable. That in itself is going to be a memory forever to be driving in one of the most competitive GT2 fields ever starting at Sebring."
ERIC VAN DE POELE, Risi-Krohn Ferrari Driver: How do you feel about being back with Tracy and Nic as co-drivers and with a team you have had much success (with both Risi Competizione and with Risi-Krohn)? "This is again a fantastic privilege to join this race with such a great team. I'm looking forward to be back in the car with my 'green' usual teammates! And I cannot wait to be back with Risi Competizione. I grabbed so many successes with Giuseppe's Team in the past; it is definitely synonym with podium."
What is the toughest or best part of the Sebring race track (as in the most satisfying to get it right)? "I always believe that the 12 Hours of Sebring is the hardest race of the year. It is a 12-hours sprint race. The conditions are very warm and humid in general, and it is a very demanding racetrack -- fast, bumpy and narrow. Of course, we must be aware of the LMP cars and avoid any small mistakes that could penalize us with extra stops in the pits."
What make driving the Ferrari 430 GTE car so special, especially at Sebring? "I had the chance to win overall with a Ferrari in 1995, and of course I will never forget that. So, to be back again at Sebring with Ferrari is already special. It is the last year of the Ferrari 430. It means that this car has been developed during many years and is nearly perfect. Last year already, this car was very nice to drive and competitive. I expect even more fun and efficiency this year."
The 12 Hours of Sebring will be broadcast live on SPEED from 10 a.m. to 12 Noon and 2:00-11:00 p.m. ET. American Le Mans Radio and Live Timing & Scoring will be available at americanlemans.com.
-source: krohn racing