VIR: Krohn Racing preview

After coming off a podium and Top 10 finish at Mexico City last weekend, the 2-car Krohn Racing Pontiac Lola team is ready to carry that momentum to VIRginia International Raceway for Round 4 of 14 of the 2008 Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series. The...

After coming off a podium and Top 10 finish at Mexico City last weekend, the 2-car Krohn Racing Pontiac Lola team is ready to carry that momentum to VIRginia International Raceway for Round 4 of 14 of the 2008 Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series. The 250-mile/77-lap or two hours and 45-minute race will be held at the 3.27-mile, 17-turn scenic Alton, Virginia race circuit.

The No. 75 Krohn Racing Pontiac Lola will be piloted by team owner/drive Tracy W. Krohn and Eric van de Poele, who collected their second Top 10 finish at Mexico City. The Rolex 24 At Daytona saw them finish in seventh place and at Homestead they were 12th. They sit eighth in 2008 Daytona Prototype points after three races.

The No. 76 Krohn Racing Pontiac Lola pairs drivers Nic Jonsson and Ricardo Zonta, who finished third at Mexico City. This result followed-up a fourth-place finish at the Rolex 24 and an 11th place finish at Homestead, currently placing them fifth in this year's DP championship.

Tracy W. Krohn, team owner/driver, No. 75 Krohn Racing Pontiac Lola:

How do you like the VIR circuit?

"VIR is a fantastic race track with a grand history. It's got everything -- elevation changes, speed, and a pleasant surface. I really like it. There are a couple of turns that pucker you up like the uphill Turn 10. It is a real first class track that has everything. It will be fun to race there with the new Proto-Auto Lola this year."

The Krohn Racing team had a good result at Mexico City. Do you come to VIR more confident because of that success? "The third- and tenth-place finishes with the new Proto-Auto Lola at Mexico was a good boost to the team. Everyone has worked very hard to make progress and obtain the level you need to be at in order to achieve success in this very competitive series. Capturing a podium finish in just our second race with the new car shows how much effort everyone has put into this program. But we have to continue working towards a victory. Championships in this series aren't won on third-place finishes. You have to win races to get the points you need to stand on the top step. We'll continue to work towards that goal."

Eric van de Poele, driver, No. 75 Krohn Racing Pontiac Lola: VIR is the first real road course of the season. You have tested the Lola there. Is the VIR circuit a good course for the Lola and why? "I was not at the last test, but I know that we were still learning the car there without real research of performance. The team even didn't use the full track, just the short course, so it's going to be kind of new for the car. We have a few good ideas for this type of track but it is very difficult to evaluate our competitiveness there. The only thing I can tell you, is that the Krohn Racing team is working really hard to be at the front oneverytrack we are going to."What do you like best about the VIR circuit?"I like the diversity of the corners, the natural layout with relief, and it is quite narrow. Of course when it is fast and narrow, we really cannot make any mistakes, and it is the key there. I never actually raced there, so it looks like quite difficult to overtake. Ijust did test days with Cadillac in 2000."

At Mexico City, the new Proto-Auto Lola showed some good success with a podium and Top 10 finish with the two cars. Do you think you have found what you need to have a successful season with the new cars? "The Lola Pontiac has definitely improved since the Daytona test. I still believe that we have a lot more coming and the third place for Ricardo and Nic is not a surprise for me. I know how the team works, and it is obvious that we should continue to improve. The races are other stories but in performance, there is no secret. We need to work to improve and that is what the Krohn Racing team does -- they perform without doubt."

Nic Jonsson, driver, No. 76 Krohn Racing Pontiac Lola:

What do you like best about the VIR circuit?

"As a driver, I feel VIR is very challenging. You have very hard braking zones, where you carry a lot of speed from the front straightaway and the back straightaway. You have some real technical elements there as well, where you have a lot of transitions to left and right corners that are very small and there are straightaways in between, so you have to have the car very well-balanced. So we really need to really focus on getting a good set-up from a mechanical standpoint. Probably one of the fastest corners is Turns 8 and 9, which is the esses going up to Turn 10. In the qualifying run, I know for sure it is a flat corner. It's really hairy! It's one where you bite your lip and just hang on and hopefully it turns out well on the other end. So far, that has worked very well. You have very high speed, fast corners, very slow corners with technical and very hard braking zones also giving you great opportunities to pass. That's why you always see great racing there because there are plenty of passing opportunities and places to try to outmaneuver people if you are able to manage your tires and get a good set-up on the car."

At Mexico City, the new Proto-Auto Lola showed some good success with a podium and Top 10 finish with the two cars. Do you think you have found what you need to have a successful season with the new cars? "I think we are definitely are narrowing everything down. We have such a small window to get the car good out of the box. That's what we're still struggling with a little because we have so many different things that we want to try and we need to try to actually get a complete understanding of this new car. With this car, if you use racing terms, it is built more like a proper race car. Response is much better to both driver input and set-up changes than the Riley.

We did test at VIR about a month and a half ago on the short course and learned a great deal up there of what the car will be like. I have very big hopes. Again, the Krohn team did a fantastic job not just at the race track in Mexico City, but in getting the cars prepped the way they have in years before. We didn't have any mechanicals and everything is working perfectly. Ricardo and myself are starting to know each other better as well, after a few races together and we seem to like the same kind of handling of the car. I think we should be able to gain our set-up very quickly and hopefully have a good qualifying run, run up front and go for another podium!"

What willbe different at VIR? "I think at VIR is a bit more of a handling track, as you have a combination of corners there. You have the slow complex, which is from Turn 1 to Turn 6. Then you have a very fast complex from Turn 6, up through the esses to Turn 10 and before you turn around again at the oak tree. Then there's the long, long straightaway that's pretty fast again coming down the hill. So, I think this track is going to demand a little better mechanical grip to be able to have good lap times. We are going to have to balance the car between aero balance and mechanical grip because of the long back straightaway, as we have been struggling against some of the other engines on top speed. We're going to have to try to run with as little aero as possible you can get away with that's not too much on the braking and cornering and hopefully not get left behind on the straightaway. I think our engineers have a pretty good handle on that. We should be able to stay with the guys on the straightaways and hopefully be a little quicker on the infield."

Ricardo Zonta, driver, No. 76 Krohn Racing Pontiac Lola:

What do you like best about the VIR circuit?

"Of course the track is very narrow. The test we did there was quite good. We learned a lot. But I saw some corners that I think are quite dangerous because there are not much run-off areas. If you make any mistake, you could have a crash so you must be very cautious. The layout of the corners are very nice and for the medium corner speeds. I actually like to drive there though."

It is the first real road course of the season. You have tested the Lola there. Is the VIR circuit a good course for the Lola and why?

"I think it will be quite similar to Mexico for performance. I think it will be good. Homestead will be the worst track for the Lola, I believe. After our podium result at Mexico, we have even more promise for VIR."

-credit: kr

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series Grand-Am
Drivers Nic Jönsson
Teams Krohn Racing