DRIVER QUOTES AND DETAILS: CAR 82 Name: Gianmaria (Gimmi) Bruni Nationality Italian (lives Rome, Italy) Date of Birth: May 30, 1981 Notes: Junior open-wheel champion and former F1 driver with Minardi and GP2 winner before making debut in...
DRIVER QUOTES AND DETAILS: CAR 82
Name: Gianmaria (Gimmi) Bruni
Nationality Italian (lives Rome, Italy)
Date of Birth: May 30, 1981
Notes: Junior open-wheel champion and former F1 driver with Minardi and GP2 winner before making debut in sportscars in 2007. Official Ferrari GT development driver, immediate winner in FIA GT Championship. Runner up 07, winner in 08; runner up 09 Le Mans Series and FIA GT Championship and 2010 12H Sebring.
Gianmaria Bruni: (On his approach to the 2010 event) "We are looking for a good result --but I don't want to say anything more than that. The approach will be the same as the last two Le Mans races I've done, which is to relax as much as possible and take time with everything, speeding up a bit towards the race. I think the secret to success in the endurance events is a good relationship with my partners, the team set up, and to be slickest possible in the pits. Le Mans is a bit longer but no tougher than Sebring, but it will be harder this year because there are 18 cars in the GT class and all very competitive; we saw many of them in Sebring. I think the Lieb/Lietz/Henzler Porsche will be very strong, the Corvettes and BMWs too, but we will be good too!"
(On the 24 Hours of Le Mans) "Since I was a kid I was aiming and dreaming to drive at Le Mans, and to drive in F1 and at Indianapolis. I've been able to do two of them and with Risi I was able to win here already [GT class win in 2008] so of course I think it's a fantastic event."
(On representing Ferrari) "It will be something special, carrying on a three and a half year partnership with the Ferrari brand behind my shoulders, and I'm proud of it. I'm Italian and a Ferrari Risi Competizione driver and I'm driving with the best drivers -- it's a very good place to be."
Name: Pierre Kaffer
Nationality German (lives Salenstein, Switzerland)
Date of Birth: November 7, 1976
Notes: Junior open-wheel champion before switching to sportscars. Achieved success with Veloqx Audi, under the tutelage of Allan McNish, including victory at Sebring. Two-times overall runner up at the 24H Nurburgring. Winner (GT2) of 2009 12H Sebring, 24H du Mans, Petit Le Mans, 2010 12H Sebring.
Pierre Kaffer: (On what it takes to succeed in endurance events like Le Mans) "I think the secret to success is that everybody is very well prepared, and that you have no trouble in the traffic or the pits, which is key, and to have a quick average lap time. In a 24-hour race the crew, the team behind your back which supports you with everything you need, is vital and no one is better than Risi Competizione in my opinion; the team is one of the best in the world. It's also important to have a very good strategy and to be able to react actively in the race. If you have a safety car, you need to decide very quickly when you have to pit, how much fuel you need to take, if to tires or not. All these things have to be really planned, even in a hurry."
(On the GT2 competition at Le Mans) "It comes down to Porsche and BMW in my opinion. You saw at the 24-hour race at the Nurburgring that the BMW was really reliable and continuously fast. I think right now Porsche are the favorites, and BMW are the under-dog. Like us, they have a good car and good driver line ups -- all with the skills to win the race. Corvette also has a strong car, really fast on the straight, and we know them from America. They will be hard to beat as they have a lot of experience in Le Mans...they tried to get the under-dog number but they are not it. I think, however, we are one of the strongest driver combinations, as we showed at Sebring, and they should all be watching us carefully."
(On what makes Le Mans so special) "Le Mans is special because it's once a year and the biggest race in the world. It's like a little world championship because it's the best drivers and teams in the world, and it's a big pleasure and honor to drive for Ferrari and for Risi. We showed last year we can win altogether and I think this year, with Gimmi as well, we are one of the strongest combinations. That gives you a lot of confidence going into the race."
Name: Jaime Melo
Nationality: Brazilian (lives Milan, Italy)
Date of Birth: April 24, 1980
Notes: An open-wheel champion in F3000, switched to sportscars in 2004 and has not stopped winning since. Official Ferrari GT development driver. 2006 FIA GT Champion with AF Corse, 2007 ALMS GT2 Drivers Champion with 8 wins from 12 races, 6 pole positions; Winner of the 2007 12 Hours of Sebring (closest finish in Sebring history and voted the Series' Greatest Moment); 2008 GT2 winner of 24 Hours Le Mans and Petit Le Mans. Winner (GT2) of 2009 12H Sebring, 24H du Mans, Petit Le Mans, 2010 12H Sebring.
Le Mans Experience: 2009 - Risi Ferrari 430 GT2 (Salo/Kaffer) -- 1st
2008 -- Risi Ferrari 430 GT2 (Salo/Bruni) -- 1st
2007 - Risi Ferrari 430 GT2 (Salo/Mowlem) -- DNF (water pump)
2004 - JMB Ferrari 360 GT2 (Daoudi/de Fournoux) - DNF (transmission)
Jaime Melo: (On his approach to Le Mans) "I normally take it race by race and of course Le Mans is one of the biggest races in the world. It's a long week and I think we need to take the first half of it very easy and not stress too much. Of course be focused and concentrated, and try to give the team the maximum information we can to make the car consistent and quick at the same time. Just try to stay on the track and take the race the way we normally do."
(On the pressure of returning after two class victories) "There's always a little pressure. We race for Ferrari and there's always pressure but it's the kind you can manage because you know the potential of the team. We've got a good team, the Ferrari car and Michelin tires so that eases it. Of course we won the last two times and we hope we can do a third. It's also the last year of the F430 so I want to finish its history at Le Mans in the best way possible."
(On the driving trio of Melo/Bruni/Kaffer) "We are of course not the same, but I think our driving styles are not so different and we are all pretty quick and really consistent and professional. Put all that together and we can give very good information to the team and that's how we can succeed. Especially me and Gimmi, but also Pierre now, we know the car SO well and that's a big advantage."
DRIVER QUOTES AND DETAILS: CAR 83
Name: Nic Jonsson
Nationality: Swedish (lives Buford, Georgia, USA)
Date of Birth: August 4, 1967
Notes: Former open-wheel and touring car champion, IRL and Indy Lights driver. After debut in sportscars, has raced successfully in both ALMS and Grand-Am Rolex Sportscar Series, regular top six and podium finisher in both. 2nd (GT2) 2007 24 Hours Le Mans, 3rd (GT2) 2008 12 Hours Sebring, 2009 winner New Jersey Motorsport Park race in Krohn Racing Ford Lola DP
Le Mans Experience: 2009 -- Risi/Krohn Ferrari 430 GT -- Krohn/van de Poele) -- 3rd
2008 -- Risi/Krohn Ferrari 430 GT (Krohn/van de Poele) -- DNF (accident)
2007 - Risi/Krohn Ferrari 430 GT (Krohn/Braun) -- 2nd GT2
2006 - Petersen White Lightning Porsche 911 RSR (Bergmeister/Krohn) - DNF (accident)
Nic Jonsson: (On the competition) "The competition is getting tougher and tougher every year. Not just at Le Mans, I think, but in sports car racing in general. You have a much younger driver talent focusing on sports car racing now from the get-go...coming straight out of go-karts or single seaters. The goal was always to make it into Formula One or Indy cars. I think that has changed a little over the years because we have seen sports car racing getting more and more popular as more factories are getting behind it. They are pulling out of open-wheel racing because they can't really relate it as far as car sales in the same way as they do to sports car racing. Previously sports cars were looked at more as retirement for good Formula drivers. That has definitely changed. The competition is very stiff and there are a lot of factory efforts out there today. That tells you there is factory engineering, factory money and also factory drivers, so that is the most competitive racing in the world. It is the best there is."
(On the relationship he has built with Tracy Krohn and progress over the past years) "I think it is a working relationship. To be able to work with somebody, if it is coaching, just like running a business, trust is number one. The sport we do is very dangerous. You have to make decisions very quickly in the car. It helps to have someone like myself who has a lot of experience and been doing it for a long time as a professional to work with. Tracy is very successful in his own right in the business world. He has the same kind of goal and same way of doing things to reach success. It's just a different industry. I think the chemistry between Tracy and me has been very obvious. We both are eager to succeed and be very competitive and try to reach goals. We also learn from each other. I think the driver line-up we have works...not just me and Tracy, but with Eric van de Poele, who has won there several times and has an extreme success rate in sports car racing over the years. Tracy's been driving at Le Mans for five years so he's gained experience there too and we've achieved a lot of results. Hopefully we can carry on doing that and maybe in coming years in the future we will end up on the top of the podium at Le Mans."
(On the strengths of the #83 car driving team) "I think one of the strengths we have is there is no ego involved at all. I think we all rate each other as successful individuals. Even though Eric and I have had success on the race track, Tracy has had success in the business world. None of us has anything to prove in the car because Eric has won a lot of championships and many big races in the world. Over the years I have done the same thing so we don't have anything to prove to each other. We are there to try to help the team and help each other to get a victory at Le Mans for Tracy and together with Tracy. I think that's the biggest thing we have. We work very well together as a group. We kind of like the same set-ups and we're just like one big happy family."
Name: Tracy Krohn
Nationality: American (lives Houston, Texas, USA)
Date of Birth: August 26, 1954
Notes: Been competing in Grand-Am Series since 2004, climbing from Grand-Am Cup to Prototype, first overall victory being at 2005 Six Hours of the Glen. Won "Jim Trueman Award" for Sportsman drivers in 2007, and again in 2009 for best Grand-Am Pro-Am driver of the Rolex 24 at Daytona. Finished 2nd and 3rd in GT2 class at 2007 and 2009 24 Hours Le Mans. Chairman and CEO of W&T Offshore Inc., an oil and gas exploration and production company headquartered in Houston.
Le Mans Experience: 2009 - Risi/Krohn Ferrari 430 GT -- Jonsson/van de Poele) -- 3rd
2008 -- Risi/Krohn Ferrari 430 GT (Jonsson/van de Poele) -- DNF (accident)
2007 - Risi/Krohn Ferrari 430 GT (Jonsson/Braun) -- 2nd GT2
2006 - Petersen White Lightning Porsche 911 RSR (Bergmeister/Jonsson) - DNF (accident)
Tracy Krohn: (On his hopes for the 2010 race) "We always hope to be on the podium. That's the point of being there. The really good part about that it is a very long race; it takes a lot of patience. There are a lot of factory teams out there and clearly the best sports car drivers in the world. A lot of times, believe it or not, that really plays to our favor because we don't have anything we are trying to prove. We're just trying to keep ourselves in a position to have a chance at the end and we don't have to worry about one-up-manships with teammates. We don't have to worry about whether our job depends on this drive or a lot of different outside pressures. All we have to do is go out there and stay in the present time and drive the race."
(On how he and his team mates are preparing for Le Mans) "We prepared for Le Mans by competing in the six-hour American Le Mans Series race at Laguna Seca in California a couple of weekends prior to the Le Mans race. That's probably the best way to prep for it. It is long enough to give us a pretty good feel for how the car is going to behave under these conditions. And actually that track can be somewhat similar to Le Mans, but of course not as long and not nearly as fast but in terrain it is kind of similar. In cases, very low grip, variable weather conditions and that sort of thing. So this is one way to do it. We get everybody ready for a longer race starting at the Laguna event."
(On the GT class competition) "I think this year the numbers in the field are going to be staggering because there are so many different brands involved. I think the GT2 class will probably be the most competitive. At least that's the way it has been in the American Le Mans Series this year."
Name: Eric van de Poele
Nationality: Belgian (lives Incourt, Belgium)
Date of Birth: September 30, 1961
Notes: Driven more than 65 different racing cars on over 80 race tracks worldwide. Five-time winner of 24 Hours of Spa, three-time class winner of 24 Hours of Le Mans, two-time winner of 12 Hours of Sebring (1995/6), winner of Petit Le Mans (1998 in a Doyle-Risi Racing Ferrari 333SP), former Formula One driver with 29 starts, DTM Champion.
Le Mans Experience:
2009 -- Krohn Risi Ferrari F430 GT2 (Krohn/Jonsson) -- 3rd in class (GT2)
2008 - Krohn Risi Ferrari F430 GT2 (Krohn/Jonsson) -- DNF (accident)
2002 - Team Bentley EXP Speed 8 (Wallace/Leitzinger) -- 1st GTP, 4th overall
2001 -- Team Bentley EXP Speed 8 (Wallace/Leitzinger) -- 1st GTP, 3rd overall
2000 - Team Cadillac Northstar LMP (Taylor/Angelelli) -- Finish 22nd LMP900
1998 - Doyle Risi Racing Ferrari 333 SP (Taylor/Velez) -- 1st in class (LMP1)
1997 - Nissan Motorsports Nissan R390 (Suzuki/ Patrese) -- DNF (gearbox) (GT1)
1996 - RFB/Team Scandia Ferrari 333 SP Dallara (Goossens/Bachelart) -- DNF (Accident) (LMP)
1994 - Clayton Cunningham Nissan 300ZX Turbo (Gentilozzi/Kasuya) -- DNF (Ignition) (IMSA GTS)
1992 - Peugeot Talbot Sport 905 (A Ferte/ Wendlinger) -- DNF (engine) (Category 1)
Eric van de Poele: (On what makes Le Mans a special place and the fans) "I am a big fan of this race and it is a fantastic privilege to accomplish my passion with a top team and with the great and very professional Risi Competizione team. There are a few Belgian drivers there this year and I know that many Belgians try to follow the race. Le Mans is a part of the 'motorsport' tradition in Belgium and it is always an honor to start at that race. The French are very nice to me as well - they like my hat!"
(On what it takes to be a successful endurance racing driver) "As with many other disciplines and business, it is the motivation and the energy you dedicate on your goals. I love my job and try to give all to do it properly. You need certainly a bit of luck for a few of the victories, but on average you get the results you deserve, I guess. You definitely have to have a different spirit for endurance events compared to the sprint races. If you don't get this spirit, you create a bad atmosphere in the team and with your teammates, and it never works. Endurance is a "THE" discipline of compromises without mistakes, if you know what I mean!"
(On what is the most challenging part of the Le Mans circuit) "I have to say, the change of rhythms during a lap is the most challenging. It is not a very physical track, but mentally, you need to be 100% alerted. During the night it is twice more challenging and even twice more if it rains. You can make no mistakes at all. The speed you reach doesn't give you a lot of room for this. It is a race track that you have to respect, like Spa."