Sebring: Niclas J?nsson preview

Nic Jönsson has driven a lot of race cars, but he'll race a Porsche 911 GT3 RS for the first time this week. Jönsson will drive the No. 31 Petersen Motorsports / White Lightning Porsche in the 12 Hours of Sebring, slated for March 15 on the ...

Nic Jönsson has driven a lot of race cars, but he'll race a Porsche 911 GT3 RS for the first time this week. Jönsson will drive the No. 31 Petersen Motorsports / White Lightning Porsche in the 12 Hours of Sebring, slated for March 15 on the 3.7-mile Sebring International Raceway road course in Sebring, Fla. His co-drivers will be Johnny Mowlem of England and Craig Stanton of Long Beach, Calif.

test drive

Jönsson has extensive experience testing and developing sports cars and open-wheel cars, so he is confident he'll adjust quickly to the Porsche. Not wanting to wait until race week for his first laps in the car, he drove 530 miles from his home in Buford, Ga., to Sebring last month to test a colleague's Porsche 911 race car. He spent 18 hours on the highway so he could grab a few laps on the track.

"I think I'll have a blast out there!" he enthused. "Porsche always builds really good race cars and Petersen Motorsports / White Lightning is known for doing a really good job setting the cars up. That's right up my alley because I've done a lot of testing and development with different cars. I'm obviously going to get in a developed car, so I hope to be able to work with the crew to help fine-tune it even more."

strong Sebring

"I'm excited to be going to Sebring with a Porsche team because Porsche has been very, very strong in the last four or five years," Jönsson noted. "This is one of the best teams out there. I'm very thankful for being given the chance by [team owner] Mike Petersen and [team manager] Dale White. They're great guys and they always put a high-quality product on track. Johnny Mowlem and Craig Stanton are great drivers and the crew has proved in the past they're very professional and very good at preparing a reliable car that handles well over the bumps at Sebring. I definitely think we have a good chance to run up front in the GT class."

coach Jönsson

In addition to his race duties, Jönsson has been coaching aspiring drivers through the Panoz Racing School, based at Road Atlanta near his Georgia home. He is also continuing private coaching with drivers across the United States.

"I've been coaching for 12 years," he said. "It's very educational, not just for the people I'm coaching, but also for me. I get to think racing all the time. Sometimes you have to refresh your memory and you don't do that if you just show up on a race weekend or a test and try to go as fast as possible. When you coach, you take it a little bit easy and work up to speed with the driver you coach."

back to school

Jönsson visited an elementary school in Newport Beach, Calif., where he led class discussions on racing and geography. He used his race equipment to give the children a hands-on safety demonstration, then followed with a glimpse of his home country of Sweden, illustrating differences in language, culture and customs.

-sp-

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Series ALMS
Drivers Nic Jönsson