Krohn Racing Heads to Grand-Am Test Days for Rolex 24 At Daytona
Krohn Racing will kick off 2011 headed to Daytona International Speedway this week for the official Grand-Am Test Days in preparation for the Rolex 24 At Daytona endurance race. The 49th running of the twice-around-the-clock historic race will be held on January 29-30, 2011.
The team has entered one Krohn Racing Proto-Auto Lola with a dream team endurance driver line-up, including team owner/driver Tracy W. Krohn, Krohn Racing regular Nic Jonsson, former Formula One racer Ricardo Zonta and Peugeot factory sports car driver Nicolas Minassian. They will run the No. 76 Krohn Racing Ford Proto-Auto Lola engineered by David Brown. The team finished fourth in last years' running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona event.
Through the Krohn Racing marketing efforts and exposure over the past years, team owner Tracy W. Krohn announces his participation in an investment entity affiliate, Cross Creek Pictures, LLC. The $25 million movie fund invests in major motion pictures with national and international distribution. The movie fund investment is a direct result of Krohn Racing's marketing efforts over numerous years. Additional information regarding the Cross Creek fund investment will be provided prior to the start of this year's Rolex 24 At Daytona race.
TRACY W. KROHN, Team Owner/Driver No. 76 Krohn Racing Ford Proto-Auto Lola:
You've had some time off since you last raced at Miller Motorsports Park. Please share some of the things you've been doing and how you have been preparing for Daytona Test Days.
"We've been doing a little testing. I've done a little bit of karting and keeping in relatively good shape working a lot with my business career. That's kept us busy. Prior to Daytona we went skiing in Colorado. That's a good place to come at the end of the year to get ready for racing -- going fast, looking way out in front of you and staying in good shape."
You have your regular co-driver Nic, along with a new co-driver, Nicolas, arriving for testing and Ricardo sitting it out. What are the team goals to accomplish during Test Days?
"What we find out is to get everybody used to the car and make sure everybody has got the seat right. Nicolas will get a little time on this track. We've got a few things to test but not quite sure it's of any real importance. What we're really looking for is a little consistency. The other thing is making sure we have everything right in the car and proper ergonomics for all the drivers. It would have been better with Ricardo here for the test but he's got plenty of time in the car and plenty of time on the track as well, so it's not critical he be here."
With a 24-hour race like the Rolex 24 At Daytona do you think it is more difficult physically or mentally for a driver and why?
"At this track it is both. I've driven at Le Mans as well. Le Mans, I think, is more difficult mentally because it is a much longer track. It's not as physical of a track as Daytona. Daytona is a much more physical track. You'll shift gears a lot more. You'll also hit the brakes hard a lot more. You'll be going around that banking with some G-forces on you. So, overall I think it is a more difficult track than Le Mans would be."
The Rolex 24 race really kicks off the racing season for the world. Do you find that exciting to be part of the first major worldwide race of the year with all eyes watching?
"I think the best thing about Daytona is you have drivers from all over the world competing at a 24-hour race at a venue that is very physical and very mental. It's really challenging and it's fun to see all these different drivers from different disciplines -- sport car racing, NASCAR racing and other disciplines as well. We've even have drivers that are former motorcycle champions. So it's really a melting pot to start the season with people that are running in several different series worldwide."
NIC JONSSON, Driver, No. 76 Krohn Racing Ford Proto-Auto Lola:
What are the goals of the Daytona Test Days for the team?
"I think the goals at Daytona are obviously to get a feel for the new tire that we're going to race this year. It's a new construction, a new compound and also a new manufacturer, Continental. That's going to be very interesting. With the combination of the new pavement that Daytona has put on since we were there last summer. The combination of the two of those is going to change a lot of things. It is going to be much smoother and there won't be much rubber down so it's a complete fresh race track with a new tire that we are all going to have to get used to and find our way around again basically. I think that will be the main thing for the test, along with getting Nicholas as much time as possible. He is the one with no experience in the car or at Daytona. But with his professionalism and track record, I don't think it will take him very long to get up to speed. It will be more about getting him comfortable to be in the car for three hours at a stretch without making mistakes and get comfortably in the seat ergonomically. The speed I'm not worried about at all. I think I'm going to get minimal time in the car at the test. I'll start out the first few rounds and get the baseline on the car since I have the most experience in the car and have been doing most of the development testing. I think that's what we're looking for and to do some pit stop practice and driver changes."
You and Tracy have years of experience in working through data to improve session after session. Do you find it easier or more difficult when there are additional co-drivers involved?
"No, I don't think that makes much difference. The only difference is neither Tracy or myself will get as much time in the car as a normal race weekend when it is just the two of us sharing the car. From a data point of view, it doesn't make much difference because we sit down in front of the computer with our engineer, David, and talk everything through. It's the same as we do any other race weekend. If anything, it's a benefit and advantage because we have two other professional drivers to compare to as well. That is very good to me. I am always the reference when Tracy and I race, so having Ricardo and Nicolas also to compare my laps and performance with takes me to the top of my performance. That benefits the whole team in longevity. So I think it's a good thing. It's also good for Tracy to get some other input from other drivers who have difference driving style and experience. I always look at having other drivers joining the team as a positive. I don't look at it that I'm fighting for a job. I look at it as getting the team to be as good as possible. That's the goal for the whole Krohn Racing operation, no matter the job. It's always about teamwork. I think that's why we have the success we have."
RICARDO ZONTA, Driver No. 76 Krohn Racing Ford Proto-Auto Lola:
The Rolex 24 At Daytona is one of the most prestigious and renown sports car endurance races in the world and one in which you have raced before several times. What are your thoughts about coming back to your sports car endurance racing roots and competing at Daytona again?
"I very much like racing at Daytona in the Rolex 24 race. I am glad to return to race with Tracy and Nic and welcome Nicolas. The Krohn team is like family for me and being part of the 24 Hours of Daytona race again is very exciting. We learned a lot in the past couple of years and so many things go on during the race. We are even better prepared for the race this year."
This is your fourth Rolex race with the Krohn Racing team. Do you feel you all have developed a good rhythm and trust between the drivers and the team?
"Yes, very much so. Tracy, Nic and I work together very well. David (Brown) and I have known each other for many years and worked together on other racing programs, so I enjoy working with him again. I have raced with Nicolas before and also at the 2008 24 Hours of Le Mans with Peugeot when we finished third. He is a good endurance sports car driver so it will be good to drive together again. It is nice because we are all like family."
What have you been doing since last year's Rolex 24 race?
"I have been racing FIA GT1 and the Nextel Stock Car Series in Brazil."
NICOLAS MINASSIAN, Driver, No. 76 Krohn Racing Ford Proto-Auto Lola:
Please share your thoughts on joining the Krohn Racing team for the Rolex 24 At Daytona race.
"It is with great pleasure I will be racing with the Krohn Racing team, which is well organized, motivated and with a great team spirit, I am very excited!"
The Daytona Test will be your first time in the Daytona Prototype car and at Daytona International Speedway. What do you think will be the most challenging?
"I guess I will find out after the test but there is enough time at the test for me to get used to it all. Both the track and the car will be a challenge, but I like that."
What is the most exciting part about getting to drive in a new car at a new circuit?
"I am already exited!! It is just a great feeling meeting the team, making a seat and then driving. It is a great track full of history and the car is competitive. One can't ask for more."
Although this will be your first Rolex 24 at Daytona race, you have a great history in endurance racing. Share with us your thoughts about finally be able to compete at the world-renown Daytona endurance race later this month.
"I have wanted to race at Daytona for a long time. Sometimes I could not do it because of other commitments and other times I didn't have the opportunity. I love endurance racing...sharing the car and working as a team. I hope it is the first of many."
You have been competing on an international scale in sports car racing at Le Mans, Spa and others, as well as in the ALMS. What are your expectations of the competition in Grand-Am?
"My expectations are as high as any other series. It is always difficult to beat somebody in their own garden. There are lots of great teams and drivers like Krohn Racing."
DAVID BROWN, Krohn Racing Team Manager and Engineer:
Krohn Racing has regular co-drivers Tracy and Nic, along with a new co-driver, Nicolas, arriving for testing and Ricardo sitting it out. What are the team goals to accomplish during Daytona Test Days?
"We have to acquaint ourselves with the 2011 Continental tires and with the new track surface, two key elements in our performance. Nic and Tracy will quickly re-orient themselves with the track. The bus-stop may be a little different after some elevation alterations. For Nicolas, he will learn the track and the car, neither of which will take him a very long time. He has plenty of experience and ability to adapt. We have some updates to the car to evaluate over the course of the three days too."
Nicolas Minassian has never driven a Daytona Prototype car, nor the Daytona International Speedway circuit. Will you mostly focus on his familiarity with those two things?
"To start with, of course, and I expect Nicolas to pick it up pretty quickly. He will spend time in and out of the car getting familiarized with the team, its procedures and methods and the specifics of racing at Daytona."
Daytona Test Days is the first main event after a long season off. What is the most challenging part of getting everyone back up to speed?
"Well we'll have to shake off a bit of rust after the break! That won't take long. Our team remains unchanged. We have a great group, we know what to do, we are focused on achieving the highest level throughout our operation and we know we need to deliver."
What is the most challenging part of having a new driver join the team?
"There are plenty of operational details we need to get across to make Nicolas familiar and comfortable in our environment, to make him comfortable in the car and well versed in the rules and procedures. We will be doing driver change practice as well as pit stops. He has plenty of pre-event reading to cover as his homework! I'm sure Nicolas will fit straight in. He shares an attitude of focused enthusiasm and professionalism with the team."
Have you done any changes or improvements on the Proto-Auto Lola during the off-season?
"We have a couple of things to test. I'm not going to say what exactly but we look at the 24 hour as a race of consolidation and survival. We know we need to be quick enough, as well as have a trouble-free or trouble-minimized run. We are really looking forward to getting the car out on the track and the guys into the pit lane. We are excited by our prospects are ready to go!"
This year is Krohn Racing's fifth appearance as a team at the Rolex 24 At Daytona. Krohn and Jonsson have competed in all five events. Zonta will make his fourth appearance with the team, each year since 2008. This year will be Minassian's first appearance with the Krohn team and first at Daytona International Speedway. All four Krohn Racing drivers have been on the podium at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, but have yet to take that step at the Rolex 24 At Daytona.
The 49th Annual Rolex 24 At Daytona at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida will be January 29-30.
-source: krohn racing