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Krohn Racing Brings Strong Lineup To Daytona

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Krohn Racing brings a formidable driver line-up to the 49th running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona race, January 29-30, 2011 for round one of the 2011 GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series. The Krohn Racing team boasts team owner/driver Tracy W. Krohn, Nic Jönsson, Ricardo Zonta and Nicolas Minassian as their pilots for the historic endurance race on the newly repaved Daytona International Speedway. This will be Krohn Racing’s fifth entry at the Rolex 24 race, this year with the No. 76 Krohn Racing Ford Proto-Auto Lola.

All four drivers have captured podium finishes in the 24 Hours of Le Mans race in Le Mans, France, but none have stepped on the podium for Daytona’s twice-around-the-clock enduro. Krohn drivers have won at Daytona, in the Brumos Porsche 250 July sprint race, in 2006 and finished third in 2007 and 2008. Last year, after leading the race for numerous laps, the Krohn Racing team just missed the podium and finishing fourth. A garage visit that cost approximately 15 laps to make repairs caused by damage from a car down many laps set the team back.

DRIVER QUOTES: TRACY W. KROHN, Team Owner/Driver No. 76 Krohn Racing Ford Proto-Auto Lola: Did you accomplish the goals you had set at the Daytona Test in preparation for the Rolex 24? “We certainly were closer to where we wanted to be, but did not accomplish all of the goals. The good thing about testing with most of the rest of the field is that it shows you what weaknesses remain as compared to everyone else and hopefully helps the team to generate a plan to make the car (and drivers) better!”

How did Nicolas Minassian fit in with the Krohn Racing team? “Nicolas fits in perfectly, literally and figuratively. He and Nic are about the same size so there was not much that we needed to do to the car to adjust for him. He is a really accomplished driver and just kept getting quicker and quicker in the car. He is very patient with the car and clearly that showed with the consistency and then, speed, in the car during the test days.”

You have a stellar driver line-up and all of you have finished on the podium at Le Mans. What are your expectations and hopes for the Rolex 24 race this year? “We have a very experienced set of professional drivers that have accomplished a great deal in sports car endurance driving. I do not see any egos that will get in the way and we have always approached this race with patience. I believe this gives us a bit of an edge for the long run! My expectation is for a WIN. That is clearly the goal!!”

What teams do you see as your toughest competition at the Rolex 24 this year? “The reality is that anyone could win this race, but you have to give an edge to the Ganassi team as they have lots of experience here and a two-car effort, as well as great drivers.”

Last year you were so close with a 4th-place finish, what would it mean to you to have a podium finish at the Rolex 24 at Daytona? “We were very close last year so it just means we can get there! This is one of the goals the team has set for itself this year so we are doing everything we can to get to the top of the podium. Our team manager and race engineer, David Brown’s wife, Angela, has done her part as well by having her twin babies two weeks earlier than anticipated so David could be here for the race. I did place a bit of extra pressure on myself by promising my wife, Laurie, that a win means she gets a Rolex too!!”

Krohn Racing Team Manager and Race Engineer David Brown and wife, Angela, gave birth to twins, Ben and Chloe, a few days ago. With the recent birth of David’s twins, Krohn Racing engineer Simon Marshall will engineer the No. 76 Krohn car with assistance from race engineer Rick Mayer. In addition to working in Grand-Am and the American Le Mans Series, Mayer has also engineered cars in the IRL.

NIC JONSSON, Driver, No. 76 Krohn Racing Ford Proto-Auto Lola: How did Nicolas Minassian fit in with the Krohn Racing team at the Daytona Test? “If you look at Nicolas from a performance aspect, he is obviously a world-class sports car driver and driver in general. He understands what it takes to win races, specifically endurance races. He’s been doing that for a long time. He’s a pure professional and he came into the team and did lots of listening and absorbed. He had never driven a prototype car before and needed to learn that aspect. As soon as he got in the car and got going, he picked up some time pretty quickly. On the last day of the test he got the majority of the running time to be able to allow him to come up to speed. At the end of the day he was right there with what the car has in it. On a more personal level, he’s a real laid back, fun, humorous and nice guy. He really fit right in the with the Krohn guys. We really enjoyed having him and I think he’s going to be a fantastic compliment to the Krohn Racing team for the Rolex 24 this year.”

You have a stellar driver line-up and all of you have finished on the podium at Le Mans. What are your expectations and hopes for the Rolex 24 race this year? “As we all know, you need to have that portion of luck to win any race of this caliber. If you look at the entry list there are many world-class drivers with world-class teams using world-class equipment and world-class engineers. It’s not just about going out there and go as fast as you can. You also need to be lucky to not get involved in anything you can’t control yourself. You obviously have to make sure everything stays together and no mistakes come across your team or your car. But I feel this will be the strongest team we’ve had so far at Daytona, not just the driver line-up but also the team itself. They’ve been working together for many years now. We know the car and we have proven the Proto-Auto Lola with the Ford power plant. To have Ricardo Zonta and Nicolas Minassian on the team with me and Tracy is definitely one of the strongest line-ups. I’m sure there are other line-ups that have the speed that we have but add in the experience and knowledge of 24-hours races, and we are one of few teams. I think we are definitely one of the teams to beat.”

What teams do you see as your toughest competition at the Rolex 24 this year? “If you go back and look at records you have to look at the Ganassi team, of course. They are one of the toughest competitors. They are not just running the regular 01 car but are running the 02 car with world-class drivers including ex-F1 drivers, Indy champions and Indy 500 champions. It’s a stellar line-up with a very competitive and first-class team. You also have the SunTrust team, who is always running up front in the Rolex Grand-Am Series. You can mention probably ten teams. The 01, 02, the 10, and the Action Express team are going to be strong. The Starwork’s team showed a lot of speed at the test and have a good line-up. I think there are numerous teams that can win. It’s not just about pure speed. It’s about staying out of trouble and having good luck. I think if you look at pure speed, experience and knowledge, you’ll look at those four or five teams as top competition for us.”

RICARDO ZONTA, Driver No. 76 Krohn Racing Ford Proto-Auto Lola: Are you happy to be coming back to Daytona to race with Krohn Racing for the 2011 Rolex 24 race? “Yes, I am very glad to be back with both Krohn Racing and at Daytona. The Daytona 24-hour race is a very exciting race. You must be prepared for anything. And the Krohn team is like a family for me. I am very excited to get back in the car and drive.”

You were not at the Daytona Test a few weeks ago. How prepared are you for the Rolex 24 At Daytona race? “I did not come to the test a few weeks ago. The team felt it was important to use the test to get data on the car with the new tires and track surface and also to let Nicolas and Tracy do most of the driving. It is no problem though. I know the car and the team so I know what to expect. The team will have the car very well prepared and it will be up to us drivers to do our job and drive consistently throughout the entire race. If there is trouble the team will be prepared.”

All of the Krohn Racing drivers have been on the podium at Le Mans. What would it mean to you to be on the podium for the Daytona 24 hour race? “Of course a podium finish is always nice, especially in an endurance race like Daytona or Le Mans. Nicolas and I were on the podium together at Le Mans in 2008 when we both drove for Peugeot but in separate cars. He finished second and my car finished third. A podium is nice but a victory is much better.”

NICOLAS MINASSIAN, Driver, No. 76 Krohn Racing Ford Proto-Auto Lola: You have now been to the Daytona Test and worked with the drivers, engineers and team of the Krohn Racing team. Please give your impressions. “It was great starting to work with the team and crew, as well as Nic and Tracy. It is a great team, well organized and they all made it easy for me to fit in straight away. Just great!”

The Daytona Test was your first time on the Daytona International Speedway circuit. Please share your thoughts and what it was like to experience the banking for the first time. “Daytona is one of those places with a great history of racing and a prestigious race to win! The banking makes it extra special as there is a big amount of it. The track is very well suited for those kinds of races and the race will be close as overtaking is possible in a lot of places.”

How did you enjoy the Proto-Auto Lola Grand-Am car since it was your first time driving it? What were some differences from the Peugeot you are used to driving? “I really enjoy the car, (I just love racing!). It respond well and is fun to drive, even though it is a bit old fashion to drive but that make it fun. Compared to the Peugeot LMP car, there is a lot less down force and power but is a bit more sliding around going on the DP and I love that. It is a race car so it is great.”

How do you think you Tracy, Nic and Ricardo will get along and do as teammates at the Rolex 24 race? “With Tracy and Nic we met at Daytona and it was great straight away, great driver and person. With Ricardo it will be the same as I know him already. He is a great guy and driver too. I think we can do a good race together. A 24-hours race is all of the team racing together and the Krohn Racing team feels like a motivated and organized team ready for the race.”

You have been on the podium at Le Mans, Sebring, Spa and Petit Le Mans endurance races. What would it mean to you to be on the podium for the Daytona 24 hour race? “It will be good to be on the podium but fantastic to win it!!”

How do you find the competition in Grand-Am for the Rolex 24 Hour race after running during the Test Days? “There is a very good quality of drivers and team in the series. That is what make the race even harder but I am in one of those great team so that is a good start.”

DAVID BROWN, Krohn Racing Team Manager and Engineer: Did you accomplish the goals you had set at the Daytona Test in preparation for the Rolex 24? “The goals we set out to accomplish at the test were to run the car for the first time on the new Continental tire and to ensure we could set up around that and that the tire was consistent and reliable. We wanted to get a lot of seat time for Nicolas, which is why we asked Ricardo not to come. And also we wanted to give Tracy a good amount of seat time on the new tire and for Nic to drive as a check and balance from previous set-ups there. We accomplished all of that.”

How did Nicolas Minassian fit in with the Krohn Racing team? “It was good to work with Nicolas again. We picked up where we left off. He fits in easily with the rest of the team. He has good technical feedback and fluent English. As expected, he found the car very different from the LMP1 car with turbo power, high downforce and carbon brakes. He was very cautious in learning the limits of the new car, the track and working with the variety of driver skills that exist on the Daytona circuit.”

What are your expectations for the Rolex 24 race this year? “We expect stiff competition from a small but quality field. Our hopes are to at least achieve a finish as good as last year, where we were fourth, but inevitably some of that depends on our performance as well as the good and bad luck the other competitors receive. So, we have our eyes firmly fixed on the podium and with such a strong driver line-up and reliable car that is always performing better in the races than perhaps it does in qualifying, it is not unreasonable to be focused on a podium finish.”

What teams do you see as your toughest competition at the Rolex 24 this year? “The toughest anticipated competition is easy to identify from previous championship results -- the 99 Gainsco car, the 10 SunTrust car and the Target/Telmex cars from Ganassi. But in previous years we have had rather surprising winners, for example the 59 Brumos car. So we can predict our competition but we can’t predict the outcome of the race.”

Last year you were so close with a 4th-place finish, what would it mean to you to have a podium finish at the Rolex 24 at Daytona? “If we finish on the podium it will mean we suffered no misfortune at the hands of others and we didn’t make a significant error within our team throughout the preparation and execution of the race. It’s means a job well done but it isn’t going to mean a perfect job.”