Krohn Racing Ready For Inaugural ILMC Race At 12 Hours Of Sebring
The Krohn Racing team will return to the Sebring International Raceway this year with a new car, new number and competing under its own banner – Krohn Racing. Team owner/driver Tracy W. Krohn returns to the cockpit with long-time teammate, Swede Nic Jönsson. In addition to competing in the 59th Annual Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring presented by Fresh from Florida, March 17-19, the duo will compete in the entire 2011 Intercontinental Le Mans Cup Series schedule with the No. 57 Krohn Racing Ferrari 430 GT in the GTE Am class.
Joining Krohn and Jönsson for three rounds, 12 Hours of Sebring, 24 Hours of Le Mans and the Petit Le Mans, of the 2011 ILMC schedule is Italian Ferrari driving sensation Michele Rugolo. The 29-year-old from Montebelluna, Italy has been competing across Europe in the Ferrari 430 GT over the past four years in the FIA GT2, International GT Open and Italian GT Series.
This year marks the fifth time competing in the 12 Hours of Sebring for Krohn and Jönsson; all previous rounds were part of cooperation between Risi Competizione and Krohn Racing. Their best finish was a third-place in the GT2 class in 2008 with co-driver Eric van de Poele. The trio combined for two additional Top 10 finishes – sixth in 2009 and seventh in 2010 at Sebring. Additionally, the three drivers captured a third-place finish at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2009. Krohn, Jönsson and Colin Braun were also on the podium at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2007 with a second-place GT2 class finish, all in a Ferrari GT2.
QUOTES: TRACY W. KROHN, Krohn Racing Team Owner/Driver, No. 57 Krohn Racing Ferrari 430 GTE Am: Sebring will be the first race of the new Intercontinental Le Mans Cup Series for you and the team. Please share with us how competing in this series came about and why it is a good match for Krohn Racing. “We looked around for other venues in which to compete and offer sponsors real value. Because we are able to compete with the Ferrari GT-2 car, with which we have a great deal of experience, and due to the Pro-Am format, we felt that ILMC offered the best venue. I/We will also get exposure to some new tracks, so that will be interesting and fun as well!”
You now have your own Krohn Racing Ferrari 430 GT this year and have experience in the car through your past cooperation with Risi Competizione. Why did you select the Ferrari to run in the ILMC? “The F 430 GT-2 offers a great opportunity to run this car for ourselves and to compete in a car with which we have already had a great deal of success in two of the events on the ILMC schedule. Those events are Le Mans and Sebring, in which we have had a total of three podiums in the last three years.”
You and your long-time co-driver Nic Jönsson will be competing for the full season in ILMC. What are your goals and expectations for this global series? “There is only one goal for the series and that is to win a championship! However, we do want to make it a commercial success as well as a sporting triumph and will be announcing a sponsorship joint venture in the next few days.”
You have a new co-driver this year, Italian Michele Rugolo. Please tell us how he was selected to co-drive with you and Nic. “We were searching for an additional driver for the longer races and came upon Michele's name by way of a recommendation and after careful investigation decided that he would be a good fit for the team. I was actually hoping for a somewhat taller driver but this sport is entirely smitten with abnormally short people! Unfortunately, there is no requirement that all drivers must be 6' 3" tall like me. I have been trying to get that rule installed in all of the various sanctioning bodies but so far to no avail.”
Sebring is always a challenging circuit. What is your strategy for coming here each year and conquering the 17-turn, 3.5-mile Sebring track? “Our strategy is fairly simple. First, we need to make sure that we minimize mistakes and finish the race. Second, we will take advantage of the experience we already have at this race with this car in setting the car up to maximize performance. Third, drivers and crew have to work together to accomplish the goal of fuel and tires only, good communications, and no penalties. We accomplish all of those things and we will be on the podium, if not at the top of it!”
NIC JONSSON, No. 57 Krohn Racing Ferrari 430 GTE Am: Sebring is the first race on the new Intercontinental Le Mans Cup Series for Krohn Racing. Please share with us your thoughts about competing in this new series. “I think it’s going to be a fantastic experience to run the ILMC platform, which is basically a World Cup for sports cars. Racing in that with a friend is going to be even better. Tracy and I have been together for eight seasons now. We always talked about driving on more historical tracks together and this year we will get to do just that – Spa, Imola, Silverstone and Le Mans. It is going to be a fantastic experience to not just run on those great tracks, but also with our own team. We have been building this infrastructure for six years and now it is time to do an international series. We have very strong, experienced and knowledgeable team that can handle this racing opportunity with elegance and have a good year.”
You and Tracy will have a new co-driver for Sebring with Italian Michele Rugolo. He has a lot of experience in the Ferrari and on numerous European circuits. Share your thoughts about Michele joining the team for 3 races and what you hope for him to add. “I don’t know much about him but I have seen his CV and track records and it is impressive. Michele is a young, talented driver, just 29 years old. He came up on our radar through Italy. I don’t think we would have been told to take a look at him if he was not fast and good to work with. It is exciting to have someone new come into the team. We are always very receptive of new members. Michele has four to five years experience with the Ferrari 430s. That is going to be a great help to Tracy and I, as we have only been running limited races. We haven’t done a full season in the car combined. Michele brings some valuable experience and knowledge to the team. Hopefully he can help us go out and win races.”
Krohn Racing has had success with the Ferrari GT2 through their association with Risi Competizione over the years. How will that experience and success play into this year’s program? “I think we are somewhat familiar with the car, even though we have not driven it a whole lot. The Ferrari 430 is a fast, successful and reliable platform which is why we chose to go with it. The support from Michelotto and Dunlop has been excellent. With the support, along with the experience Michele is going to bring to the team, I think it’s going to be a good platform for the ILMC.”
Sebring is always a challenging circuit. How do you prepare as a driver to come to Sebring each year and conquering the 17-turn, 3.5-mile track? “Sebring is probably one of the most difficult tracks there is. Although it is a flat track, it has a lot of bumpy, uneven surfaces and difficult braking zones off the corners. You have to know your way around to be quick at Sebring. It is also very hard on equipment, requiring you to be smooth with the gearbox, brakes, and everything else. It is always a mental game to know how hard to push the car and not break it. It is also why we selected someone experienced with the car to co-drive, someone who knows how to push it. It’s a mind game to keep it on the road, not make mistakes and have a reliable car to take you to the checkered flag at 10:30 Saturday night!”
MICHELE RUGOLO, No. 57 Krohn Racing Ferrari 430 GTE Am: Tell us your thoughts about joining the Krohn Racing team in the ILMC for Sebring, Le Mans and Petit Le Mans. “I am really excited to join Krohn Racing. These are three amazing races and I am looking forward to drive for a competitive team like Krohn Racing. I think we can work together and achieve really good results!”
Have you competed at Sebring before? If so, what do you think about the circuit? If not, what have you heard about it? “I drove at Sebring in 2005. I think the track is nice and difficult because it's very bumpy and if you choose the wrong line it is easy to lose the apex of the corner.”
Share with us your thoughts about driving the Ferrari 430 GT. “The Ferrari 430 GT2 is an incredible car. The handling is similar to a single seat car, especially when you are with a new set of tires. There is a very sensitive traction control with many positions, which is very helpful for tracks like Sebring, where the grip is not so high. I don’t know which other cars there will be at the track but I think Ferrari has a good experience in these kinds of races so we won't have any problems in terms of balance.”
Please give us your experiences and results with the Ferrari 430 GT. “I have been driving the Ferrari 430 GT2 for many years competing mostly in the European and Italian championship. I won two races in the European GT Open Championship and four races in the Italian one.”
DAVID BROWN, Krohn Racing Team Manager/Race Engineer: You have had to buy a previously raced Ferrari 430 GT and prepare it for an international endurance race program in just a few short months. On top of that you and your wife just had twins. Share with us what the last six months have been like? “Obviously, filled with joy! The twins are wonderful. Angie and I are delighted every day. On top of that the team has had to re-organize, embrace new regulations and adopt a new car, so no fear of boredom or too much sleep.”
Krohn Racing has had success with the Ferrari GT2 through their association with Risi Competizione over the years. How will that experience and success play into this program? “Mainly from a driver familiarity point of view, it's good that all the drivers have experience in the F430 and of the events at Sebring, Le Mans and Petit Le Mans. That will be of immense value.”
You will also be working with a new driver, Michele Rugolo. How do you expect him to be a benefit for the team? “Michele is a very talented young driver. He has loads of experience and some considerable success in the F430 in Europe. He has driven at Le Mans and Sebring before too, so he will bring that knowledge, youth and pace to the team.”
What is involved in preparing a car for an endurance race on a circuit as difficult as Sebring? “We have had to consider the car as both a race finishing and race winning machine. We need to cover all the reliability items as well as performance enhancements. Sebring is a very hard event and particularly stressful on the car. We want to be in a competitive position straight out of the box. The Ferrari 430 is the ideal platform for us and well suited to the tracks on which we race, the ILMC in which we are entered and our drivers.”