Friday, May 4, 2012…..The Krohn Racing Ferrari Team of owner/driver Tracy W. Krohn, Nic Jönsson and Michele Rugolo have been practicing at the Spa-Francorchamps Circuit the past couple of days in preparation for Round 2 of the FIA World Endurance Championship, the 6 Hours of Spa, to be held on Saturday, May 5.
The cooler Belgium weather has played a part in the preparation as tire temperatures have remained a concern for the American-based racing team. Changing weather is always a factor at Spa and this week has been no different – rain, sunshine, fog and cold temperatures have been part of the landscape of the week.
TRACY W. KROHN, Team Owner/Driver No. 57 Krohn Racing Ferrari F458 GTE-Am: “We’ve not gotten as many laps as we wanted to get the comfortable feeling we wanted with the car. We’ve struggled with the set-up some. This is a new car for a track we’ve only run one time. Prior to qualifying I have had about seven laps total. I don’t think I had three laps in a row on the same set of tires. It’s just about figuring out what the car is going to do. The last run in qualifying was better. At least the car became much more predictable. We’re headed in the right direction and will have it ready for the race. It’s important for us to get the set up in case it does rain we’ll know what to do. That’s most important right now is we know where we are.”
Since you’re in Belgium, would you choose Brussels sprouts, mussels or Belgian waffles? “Brussels sprouts and mussels.”
NIC JONSSON, Driver, No. 57 Krohn Racing Ferrari F458 GTE-Am: “I’m glad to see the progress we made with the set up on the car today. Although I didn’t drive it today, I know it is much better than the past two days. I think we’ll be fine for the race with this set up compromise to overcome the tire temperature issues we had the earlier part of the week. Weather, of course, will be a factor in the race and staying out of trouble, especially since rain is expected.”
Since you’re in Belgium, would you choose Brussels sprouts, mussels or Belgian waffles? “Belgian waffles.”
MICHELE RUGOLO, Driver, No. 57 Krohn Racing Ferrari F458 GTE-Am: “Compared to yesterday, the situation is much better. We solved 80% of the problem of the tire temperature, which were too low. We were unable to keep the tire warm enough out of the tire heater. Tracy did a good qualifying time, 2:26.763, which is two seconds quicker than last year. It’s true that we have a different car but also I don’t know if the car is actually a full two seconds quicker. Anyway, Tracy did not have the opportunity to do many laps during the week so I think he did a really good job. Also his qualifying is better than it looks because it was all professional drivers who did the qualifying, so he was the only gentleman driver qualifying against pro drivers. I think if Tracy could do another 10 laps during the practice, he could have easily done the same time as Reid in the car above him on the time chart. Also, I think a problem was that he didn’t know the behavior of the car. It was a surprise. We have worked very well with the engineer over the past few days, although the sessions are very short. I think we chose the right direction and tried some changes. We’ve been good to recognize when it was the wrong direction at a time when we were getting better.”
Since you’re in Belgium, would you choose Brussels sprouts, mussels or Belgian waffles? “I think if I have the opportunity to chose, I will keep going to Italian food.”
DAVID BROWN, Team Manager, Krohn Racing: “We had to find a set up compromise that would put enough heat into the tires and it caused us a lot of problems initially, all of the first day really. We finally found a direction this morning which yielded better tire temperatures and a better performance. We knew that when the tires were very hot the car was quite good yesterday, but we were unable to keep the tires hot on the track. Today we were able to do that with a combination of set up changes and also tire choice and the weather, although we don’t expect the weather to stay warm. We now have a really good direction. We have a balance that we can work with, a good direction for fine tuning the car for the race and we’re looking forward to that.”
JEFF HAZELL, Krohn Racing Motorsports Manager: “We are doing better laps times with this (Ferrari) 458 than we did the 430. In colder conditions, for which we did not have an optimum tire, we are probably at a disadvantage because we don’t run at Spa except at last year’s ILMC event. Frankly, the amount of track time in the WEC events is not sufficient in proportion to the cost of competing in this championship. An additional hour or two of running would be hugely beneficial for minimal extra expense. And this particularly applies to GTE-Am teams, where three drivers are required to run. This year particularly, as we have several tracks that most of us have no chance to test on. I think our performance is okay, bearing in mind those limitations. We have to concentrate on using our time as well as possible, and that really means giving Tracy as many laps in the car and hopefully see if we can get more running in future years to make this championship more attractive for three driver teams.”
Fun Fact: One of the most famous corners in racing is the Eau Rouge (“red water” in French) corner at Spa-Francorchamps Circuit. The corner is named after the river which passes under it. The river gets its name from the coloration of the stones and riverbed due to reddish iron oxide deposits.