The rules in the FIA WEC for the GTE-Am class mandate that we run a one year old car. Although the car is new, it is set to the 2011 specs. The guys running in the GTE-Pro class are going to be running 2012 specs that include a few modifications over our car.
Last year we ran a Ferrari 430 in the GTE-Am class in the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup. This year the FIA joined with the ACO for this new series, which will truly be a "world championship" for sports cars. It's been many years since sports car racing had a true world championship so this year is going to be pretty special and the start of something big!
We got delivery on our new 458 in late December, after a brief test at the Adia circuit in Italy in early December. It came to us already painted in our "Krohn green" color. That's probably the first time Ferrari has ever delivered a green Ferrari to a customer!
In January we were pretty occupied with racing in the 24 Hours of Daytona. Tracy, Colin Braun, Ricardo Zonta and I ran our Daytona Prototype Ford Proto-Auto Lola. Unfortunately we had a drive train problem around 3:00 a.m., just before the 12-hour mark. It cost us a little over an hour in the garage, which were nearly 40 laps. That put us out of contention for the victory but the guys did a great job and we finished the race, which is always an accomplishment...especially a 24-hour race!
Back in the shop, our crew guys continued the scheduled work on the new Ferrari and we did a one day test on February 3rdat Road Atlanta, right after we got back from Daytona. Tracy and I both drove the F458 and got comfortable. It's very different than the Ferrari 430. You can tell it's the next generation race car the way the cockpit is laid out in a much more driver friendly/ergonimical way with switch panels, brake bias, radio controls, review camera, etc. being so much easier to reach and see. From a pure technical aspect the 458 has a paddle shift on the steering wheel, automatic throttle blip at down shifts to match the revs to prevent potential over revs and that way hurt the engine, launch system leaving the pits, more efficient and tunable traction control system, and over all a much better race car.
The very next week we were at Sebring for the official Sebring Test Days. Many teams had news cars and some even missed a lot of track time because they had just gotten delivery and were doing the prep work to even get their cars on track. We were happy with our test and got all the things completed our engineer, David Brown, had on the checklist.
The crew has been working the past four weeks since the test to get ready for the 12 Hours of Sebring race. I'm really excited because this year is the 60th anniversary of the race. So many famous drivers have raced around the Sebring circuit and it's pretty cool to follow in their footsteps. I sometimes sit back and think what an awesome job I have to get to drive a Ferrari on famous track's like Sebring, Le Mans, Spa, Silverstone and so many more, together with my very good friend, Team Owner and co-driver, Tracy Krohn, and other co-drivers we have at Krohn Racing. I feel very fortunate and am as happy as a man can be.
Actually this year we have an amazing schedule that includes new tracks like Sao Paolo, Brazil, Bahrain, Middle East, Mt. Fuji, Japan and Shanghai, China, as well as the European track we raced on last year. These are all FIA-sanctioned tracks that currently have or have had Formula One races. I'm really looking forward to go to all the new tracks on the calendar for this year. I'm very familiar with the Fuji track in Japan since I used to live and compete there back in the early to mid 1990's in F3 and Super Touring for Honda "MUGEN". I cant wait to go back there. The other tracks will be a great experience and learning curve to add to the rest of the tracks that I've been fortunate to compete on over the last 20 + years.
I can't wait to get to Sebring and see if we can defend our title after we won the GTE-Am class last year. There are seven WEC GTE-Am cars we are competing against in class. Additionally there will be five GTE-Pro and another 10 ALMS GT cars. It's going to be crazy out there but our goal is to stand on the top step of the podium again. I have confidence in our Krohn team and in my co-drivers, Tracy Krohn and Michele Rugolo. We're going to give them all we have.
Have a good one!
Your friend, Nic