Houston, Texas (April 8, 2015)…Krohn Racing has had a busy past couple of weeks in preparation for the inaugural round of the 2015 FIA European Le Mans Series (ELMS) race at Silverstone Circuit this Saturday, April 11.
The No. 57 Krohn Racing Ligier JS P2 Judd traveled from Florida, U.S.A., where it won the pole at the hands of Krohn driver Olivier Pla and raced to a sixth-place finish with Pla, Nic Jonsson and team owner/driver Tracy W. Krohn in the 63rd annual running of the 12 Hours of Sebring on March 21. In addition to competing in the Sebring endurance classic, Krohn, Jonsson, Pla and fourth co-driver Alex Brundle raced in the 24 Hours of Daytona in the IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship.
Joining Krohn Racing in the LMP2 class for four of five rounds of the ELMS for 2015 is Oswaldo (Ozz) Negri, Jr., the 2015 Daytona 24 Hours pole winner. Negri joins Krohn Racing for the first time at the 3.667 mile/5.901 kilometer Northamptonshire, England circuit. “Ozz”, as he is affectionately called by his friends, is a talented racer born in Sao Paulo, Brazil, who has been successfully competing and winning in the U.S. in the American Le Mans and Grand-Am Series, predecessors to the current IMSA TUDOR Championship since 2003. His record includes scoring a podium in every season of IMSA competition dating back to 2004.
Negri and long-time Krohn Racing driver Swede Nic Jonsson have a history as competitors that go back to the Formula Three days of the early 1990s and then both moving to Indy Lights in the mid- to late-1990s.
Negri, who races with Michael Shank Racing in a Ligier JS P2 Honda in the U.S., finished fifth at Sebring, ninth at the Rolex 24, as well as collecting the Daytona pole for 2015. He will continue to drive for Shank in the 2015 IMSA TUDOR 10-race series in North America in addition to his duties with Krohn Racing in the ELMS.
The schedule includes Silverstone, England, April 10-11; Imola, Italy, May 16-17; Red Bull Ring, Austria, July 11-12; Paul Ricard, France, September 5-6; and Estoril, Portugal, October 17-18.
TRACY W. KROHN, Krohn Racing Team Owner/Driver:
You have been doing some selected endurance races in the U.S. and now turning your focus to the European Le Mans Series for the balance of 2015. What led you to that series?
“We looked at numerous prototype series in which to seek a championship and felt the ELMS suited the team best because of the regulations for different level of drivers including myself, who does not make a living as a race car driver. The amount of time in the car for each driver, whether gold, silver or bronze, equated to a mixture we liked and thought would suit us well. We feel the Ligier JS P2 with the Judd engine and Michelin tires is the right combination for the ELMS for us and are looking forward to getting underway. ”
How did you get Ozz Negri to join you when he is usually a competitor against you in America?
“We have known Ozz for many, many years, as a competitor and friend. He has done a great job coaching and teaming with John Pew, who is also a gentleman driver, just like Nic has done with me. Ozz and Nic go back for decades and when we knew he was available and as a silver driver, there was no other choice. He’s the best silver class driver out there and will be a great compliment to Nic and me. We feel Ozz will not only fit in very well with our team and with Nic and me as drivers, but will also bring a lot to the team with his experience with the Ligier, which he races in the U.S.”
NIC JONSSON, Krohn Racing, Driver:
How did you meet Ozz Negri, who you’ve known for a long time, and what is it going to be like racing as teammates for the ELMS?
“Well, we’re pretty excited and think it’s pretty cool that Ozz is joining us at Krohn Racing this year for the European Le Mans Series. Ozz and I met for the first time in 1989 in England, driving in Formula 3. We've always been good friends since then and over the years we've talked about how great it would be to drive together at some point in our careers. Here we are, about 25 years later, joining up as teammates in the ELMS, driving in an LMP2 category car. It is just going to be fantastic to enjoy this journey with both Tracy and Ozz.”
What are your thoughts about switching gears and now focusing on the ELMS races?
“Even though we've raced a couple of races in the States up to this point, this weekend is going to be the first race with this car on European soil in the European Le Mans Series, where we will contend for the full season. It’s very exciting to be here at Silverstone with such a fantastic car. As always, the weather can be a little iffy, but the Judd powered Ligier JSPS is a very balanced car for any track conditions. I've been waiting for a really long time for this week. I’m really excited about this series of racing and I really can't wait to get out to the first practice session.”
What is returning to Silverstone like in a new class for Krohn Racing?
“Krohn Racing has been to Silverstone for a few of the last few years, both in the WEC and ILMC. We’re back in an LMP2 car, which is the top category, and in ELMS which makes it even more exciting to be here. Now we get to compete for overall victories and it's just a completely different ballgame. A GT car just doesn't have as much downforce, top speed and braking like the LMP2 car. Now there is a completely new dimension to driving and I can't wait. I'm really up to the challenge and having Tracy and Ozz as my teammates is going to be a fantastic experience all year.”
Oswaldo Negri, Jr., Krohn Racing, Driver:
What brought you on board with Krohn Racing and drive the Ligier Judd for the ELMS?
“I’ve known Nic Jonsson for quite some time. We raced in Formula 3 in the early 90s and since then we competed against each other in the U.S. We got to know each other better and have gotten to be good friends. I’m extremely excited with the opportunity Krohn Racing has given me and I’m really looking forward to the whole season. It’s a great opportunity for me and Krohn Racing is a great organization with tremendous personnel in the team. The fact that they have a Ligier Judd combination will be great in the ELMS. The Ligier is a fantastic car. The first time I had contact with the car for Michael Shank Racing in the U.S., I received a pole position, so I’m really excited to see what we can do here in this Championship.”
Tell us about your return to Silverstone and your familiarity with the track.
“Returning to Silverstone and the first race being here, there is quite a bit of a story. I got married twenty-five years ago to my sweetheart and beautiful wife, Claudia. Returning here now, in a place where I lived for seven years, it’s a pretty cool deal. I have lots of good memories here. I had several pole positions when I raced in British F3 and I’m really hoping to help our Krohn Racing team do really well and get a good result here. Our Ligier is a fantastic car and I can’t wait to drive it here at Silverstone in the high speed corners. This is a type of sport you learn everyday you go to the track”
HAYDEN BURVILL, Krohn Racing, Engineer:
What changes did you make to the car from the American series to the European Le Mans Series?
“There's a reasonable amount of change from the IMSA TUDOR Series regulations to the FIA regulations for LMP2. Most noticeable is the small engine restrictor. This means we run with less power, which equals about a 50 hp reduction, which makes quite a bit of difference to how the car handles. The basic package, aerodynamically and all of the suspension settings don’t particularly alter, but the engine power and, of course, the tires change. We are switching from Continental tires used in the U.S. to the Michelin tires for ELMS. The two have quite different properties. The Michelins have more grip, so now we're having to learn that on the circuits were going to race in. We had two choices of tires to run for the ELMS and we did some testing in the U.S. and in Europe that allowed us to make that decision. What we haven't done is run on the European circuits that this tire is designed for, but we’re confident the Michelin tires will fare well with the track control here in the European series.”
What do you think of the new pairing of Ozz Negri for the ELMS races?
“For the European series we are adding one of our competitors from the U.S. series. Ozz Negri, who races against us in a similar JSP2 in the TUDOR series and is going to join us and drive the Krohn Judd Ligier JS-powered car. Ozz has a lot of experience with this chassis and he's an ideal person to add to the team because he's rated silver and the driver pairings can be very instrumental in the success that you have in the ELMS. So Ozz is a real catch for us and he's for sure one of the fastest silver drivers available to us and he may be the fastest silver-rated driver for any prototype category. This is the man that was on the pole at Daytona 24 Hour this year so it's great to add a driver with that much speed to the Krohn Racing team for the ELMS.”
Why was it decided for Krohn Racing to race in the European Le Mans Series in 2015?
“Of all the prototype series that are available in the world, this includes the IMSA TUDOR Series and WEC and ELMS, the ELMS suits the team best because of the regulations. The driver regulations that allows for all the teams that have a bronze or silver categorized driver to be competitive and the driver pairings and the amount of driver time that’s necessary with the different combinations is a great equalizer combination. With our combination of Tracy has a bronze, Nic as a gold and Ozz as a silver, we have some powerful strategic options. We think choosing the Judd engine and Michelin tires also give us additional strategic strengths. With those options, the five race calendar schedule along with the option of Le Mans, which we've secured, we have a great opportunity to race in Europe this summer.”
GARY HOLLAND, Krohn Racing, Team Manager:
What changes did you make at 12 Hours of Sebring to the car in preparation for Silverstone?
“The changes we’ve had to make since Sebring in order to prepare for the race here at Silverstone and ELMS are pretty far reaching. Not only do we have the different championship components in the electronic systems, we have a much different engine restrictor here for ELMS, which will help with fuel efficiency. We have a very different tire with the Michelin customer tire for ELMS, which is exceedingly different from the customer spec tire of Continentals. The Michelin tire, in general, has more grip and offers the driver a bit more confidence. There are also different facets of the team we’ve had to change, like our pit stop procedure, which is quite unlike in IMSA, where everything happens at once. Here in the ELMS, we have a separate fuel and wheel change policy, as well as the format for the weekend. We’re only running Friday and Saturday so we had to make abrasive changes in such a quick amount of time, but hopefully they’ll bear fruit and we’ll have a successful first ELMS race.”
What are logistics like moving a team based in the US to Europe for a full season series?
“We’ve had an extremely tight turnaround since the Sebring race on March 21. We’ve had two weeks in real time, but a week of that is spent with our freight being up in the air, at airports and generally waiting clearances and the like. Immediately after the Sebring race, we packed up five tons of equipment. We weren’t able to bring our truck here due to American trucks being longer than a European race trailer. We’ve based ourselves out of the Onroak Automotive workshop in Le Mans, France in order that we take our customer parts to make our logistics easier while in Europe and they’ve been a fantastic partner with us, so far. We’ve also had to rebuild the car from our Sebring spec. There’s been a lot going on and as we’ve proven with the all the testing, although it’s been difficult, the team is more than up to it despite the logistic challenges.”
Two practice sessions are schedule for Friday, April 10 and qualifying for the LMP2 class will take place Saturday morning, April 11. The 4 Hours of Silverstone ELMS race runs Saturday from 2:30 - 6:30 p.m. local time.
You can also catch the race live on the official series website at www.europeanlemansseries.com, where it will be streamed live in HD and uninterrupted. Check the same website for live timing of the race.