Daytona 24: Krohn Racing race report

Krohn Racing has reason to be proud of their results in the 2008 running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona endurance race. The two-car team finished fourth and seventh in the 46th running of the twice-around-the-clock historic enduro by racing smart and...

Krohn Racing has reason to be proud of their results in the 2008 running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona endurance race. The two-car team finished fourth and seventh in the 46th running of the twice-around-the-clock historic enduro by racing smart and steady in the 24-hour race known for its unpredictable results.

The No. 76 Krohn Racing Pontiac Riley of Nic Jonsson, and Daytona rookie teammates Ricardo Zonta and Darren Turner, finished fourth overall, after starting from the 15th position at 1:30 p.m. ET on Saturday, January 26th. They faced some minor challenges from Florida's unpredictable weather, windscreen visibility, a minor brake change issue and body damage from an on-track altercations. They kept their pace, stayed out of trouble and didn't take undo risks -- all part of the overall game plan for the team. It certainly paid off when Jonsson proudly brought the car to the checkered just seven laps down from the winners.

The No. 75 Krohn Racing Pontiac Riley of Tracy W. Krohn, Eric van de Poele and Oliver Gavin also drove a smart and well-paced race. They started from the back of the Prototype grid, in the 25th position, after skipping qualifying to make a minor body repair. Gavin finished the race just 17 laps down from the winning No. 01 Chip Ganassi Lexus Riley of Scott Pruett, Memo Rojas, Dario Franchitti and Juan Pablo Montoya.The previous highest Daytona Krohn racing team finish was fifth in the 2006 Rolex 24 race. Krohn Racing is now in its third full season in the Daytona Prototype class of the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series.

David Brown, Team Manager, Krohn Racing:" I think the whole team did a wonderful job. We've achieved a great deal this week, and particularly over the last 24 hours. We changed course two weeks before the race. We did an enormous amount of work to get here and the cars were quick, the team worked very well together, we had very few issues and I think we put together a decent championship start for the year."

Tracy W. Krohn, Owner/driver No. 75 Krohn Racing Pontiac Riley: Regarding Krohn Racing's cars finishing fourth and seventh in this year's Rolex 24 At Daytona: "I think Darren put it the best. We were talking about the race just before it ended and he said, 'This race is like going to war.' And it very much is. When you see the cars and how it look, the results of the night and the attrition. This race includes great drivers and a great field. These were really tough conditions. It was wet, dry and then it was wet, then it was wet and dry, then through the night, then it finally cleared up a little this morning.

"This was a very difficult race for everyone. I'm very pleased with the result we had. These are not, of course, the cars that we originally thought that we would have for this race. But the idea was to make sure we had a positive result for the championship for the year. And that's exactly what we got. We achieved our goals: Two Top 10 and actually a Top 5 and a Top 10 finish is an outstanding result for where we wanted to be. We're very pleased with it. The whole team did a great job. We didn't have a car in the garage the whole 24 hours, neither one of them. We had some problems with the cars, obviously. You look at them and you can see they're fairly beat up in the back ends. But we absolutely didn't have any major problems the whole 24 hours. I was very proud of all the drivers and everybody that participated in this thing. It's just a really, really superb result for what we're trying to do. Now we get to focus on the Proto-Auto effort (new Lola cars). We start at Homestead, of course. Now we can go there with a little more confidence and not having to weather a 24-hour race with, essentially, an automobile that hadn't had enough test time."

Regarding being the Grand-Am Prototype season-long two-car team with the top finishes of both cars:"I think one reason we finished so well with both cars is that we had two very well sorted cars. This is not a hap-hazard effort. This is something we've been doing it for several years now. It's not an afterthought to run two cars because we think we can. This is a result of a lot of planning and a lot of experience with cars that are very well sorted. I think that is the primary thing. The other thing is that we have excellent drivers with this team.

"Ollie Gavin is not one of our regular full-time drivers, but it's great having him on the team. What a fine driver and fine man he is! Eric van de Poele, my regular co-driver this year, again, is great. If you wanted somebody to drive in dark in the rain, he's a good choice. I can't say enough about Nic and Ricardo. They did a great job. Darren Turner is also an outstanding driver and outstanding individual. Everybody just performed extremely well. When we had difficulties, and we all had difficulties last night, it was well taken care of and very professionally. I saw an article about Formula One the other day and they said 51 percent of the wins were made by 4 drivers since 1980. So you can tell how important drivers are. So that's why we spend a lot of effort concentrating on who we have driving."

Nic Jonsson, driver, No. 75 Krohn Racing Pontiac Riley: "The guys have done a fantastic job. The engineers, with David (Brown) and Jeff Braun, the crew and the whole team were outstanding. We came down here at the test with the Lolas and then changed to the Rileys, so we basically lost the three-days of testing for preparation for the race. I don't know how David does it, but he always pulls something out of a hat. I had a really good car throughout the race. In the middle of the night when it was raining, we were the quickest car out there. We were really quick in the dry as well. Unfortunately, we have some mishaps when we had to change brakes. The left front caliper, I think, got stuck, but we only lost about 40 seconds. But that's what it's all about. It's definitely great for the championship points. I think we're going to be very strong for the championship. I can't wait to get in the Lola. That's going to be a lot of fun."

Eric van de Poele, driver, No. 75 Krohn Racing Pontiac Riley: "The team did a great job this weekend. We had our challenges certainly -- with the rain and some problems in the night -- but everyone worked hard and overcame them. The finishing positions, fourth and seventh, show a fantastic start of the season for Krohn Racing. A 24-hour race is always difficult because you have to be prepared for anything. Everyone worked together and solved whatever problems we had to the best ability."

Ricardo Zonta, driver, No. 76 Krohn Racing Pontiac Riley: "I started the weekend with some apprehension. I had an accident here at the testing and did not get that much practice in the car. I learned the circuit really during the race. I enjoyed myself a lot. It was not as bad as we thought because the GT drivers worked really well and left us good lines so there was not the risk we thought. The car was also very good to drive."

Darren Turner, driver, No. 76 Krohn Racing Pontiac Riley: "I've loved my first Daytona 24, really loved it. Considering we were on the back foot this weekend because of the three-day test a couple of weeks ago when we were testing the Lola, and obviously now we are here racing with the Riley, we didn't have any real testing behind us.

"Both Ricardo and I had to get up to speed with the car and the circuit so we weren't really prepared for the race. Up until the race itself, I'd done 23 timed laps in different stints and the longest stint I'd done was seven laps in one go. So my first race stint was three hours and fifteen, 90 laps or so, so it was in at the deep end. "I love it though because it's a battle, a proper battle out there.

Looking at the state of the car now, I didn't even know half the rear bodywork was missing and they've patched it up the best they can but it's a completely battle-worn, battle-scarred car. This is what racing's about."

Asked about the difference between European racing and Grand-Am racing: "The Grand-Am series is so different to what I'm used to -- either the ALMS or Le Mans itself. It's very close and with the two classes you feel there are more people racing at the same pace as you so it's really competitive out there. This circuit is so different to any other we race on because of the banking. It's flat on the banking which, when you are on your own, is not too bad, but when there's three abreast you rely completely on your spotter to tell you when it's clear because you can be alongside someone for half a mile before you are clear of them, then you can take your line and make your move. It's a different type of racing.

"For Krohn Racing it's brilliant. They really were on the back foot this weekend. One car didn't even make qualifying and the other was in 15th place but the guys did such a great job on the race strategy. We had problems; it wasn't like it was a clean run -- damage, windscreen, wiper motors not working when there was a fair bit of rain out there, they all dealt with it really well. The team did a mega job."

Oliver Gavin, driver, No. 75 Krohn Racing Pontiac Riley: "This result is very rewarding, especially for the team who had a very difficult test earlier in the month. We had to switch back to the Riley which they ran last year, which is a very good car, but it still meant there was a lot for Eric and I to find out from the car and we had to do that in the race as there was no time in the days leading up to it. It's been a real epic battle for everyone in the team. It sort of ran reasonably smoothly in the sense we didn't have any big problems, but we had lots of little things - bodywork damage, wipers not working, windshield steaming up, the rain, the tires not being particularly good first out of the pits, when you had to be really, really careful. It's been a real test and great to race against people I haven't raced against for a long, long time. People like Dario, Helio (Oliver raced against him in British F3 in 1995) and being up against Darren in the same team as opposed to our usual GT1 cars.

"I was very proud of the team as they had a lot thrown at them in the last 24 hours and they found a solution for everything, whether it was the gearshift problem we had, to the windscreen to the bodywork. They worked out the problem and got over the hurdle. They are an excellent team."

-credit: kr

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About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya , Nic Jönsson
Teams Krohn Racing