After finishing on the podium at the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans in June, the Krohn Racing team wants to take that momentum straight to the podium at the 3.66-mile Silverstone Circuit in Northamptonshire, United Kingdom for Round Four of the 8-race FIA World Endurance Championship.
The Krohn Racing team currently sits in second place in the GTE-Am points classification, 30 points down from the leading Labre Competition Corvette Team.
To add to the enthusiasm of the weekend, Krohn Racing will host numerous guests, all with an anticipation to join the post-race celebration in victory circle.
TRACY W. KROHN, Krohn Racing Team Owner/Driver, No. 57 Krohn Racing Ferrari F458 GTE-Am:
You have recently changed to Michelin tires and did a current tire test in the UK last month. Tell us what you hope to gain with the change.
"Hopefully it translates into quicker times. Part of the exercise was to determine how the car was going to need to be set up with the new tires because tires have different spring rates. Clearly the spring rates in the Michelin tires are different than the spring rates in the Dunlop tries so that's one of the things we had to do – determine what set-up we would be needing to use with the 458 with the different tires. The second thing we had to do at the tire test. We accomplished most of what we wanted to accomplish at the test but it would have been better to have been a little cooler. Unfortunately for us, it was the two best days that England has had in the last six months. It was sunny and warm. We were expecting damp and cold and it didn't quite happen that way. It was okay though. We still got a lot done."
Does coming off a podium at the 24 Hours of Le Mans give you some momentum going into the 6 Hours of Silverstone?
"Yes, of course it does. You always feel better when you've come off a particularly meaningful race with the idea that you can do it, you can accomplish your goals even in spite of the things you have to overcome. The car is really good. Part of the questions was if the car was going to make it 24 hours and it clearly did. Not only did it make it for 24 hours but it didn't have a scratch on it." How do you like the renowned Silverstone Circuit? "I really like the circuit itself. I really like the rhythm and flow of it. It gets very challenging. You have everything you could possibly want. You get high speeds, you get low speeds, you get hard braking, and you get sweeping, hard, fast turns. I don't particularly like the pit in/pit out situation they have at Silverstone. I find it disorienting going through basically a tunnel and coming out with traffic coming at you. I think that's a little disorienting, but it's the same thing for everybody else."
As a GTE-Am driver, what is it like competing at this level of racing?
"Racing at this level is just different than what most people are used to expecting that have not been around the sport a lot. When you get into this type of racing, which is dramatically different than club racing or hobby-type racing, I think you get an appreciation for all the time and preparation and skill and the dynamics of just the driver change, putting new tires and fuel in the car and how the team works together. I think they're always amazed at how much of a team sport it is because generally they'll go into it thinking it's about the car and driver. But it's really much more. It truly is a team sport."
There are many knowledgeable fans that will be attending Silverstone. What's that like as a driver to be a part of such enthusiastic and educated racing fans?
"The fans are really into it. They know more about my history than I do. Very often people will come up with pictures of cars we've driven eight or nine years ago. It amazes me. They've got this anthology and they've got this big book with these all these different drivers and teams. It's a real hobby for them and God bless them. It just makes it a lot more fun."
NIC JONSSON, No. 57 Krohn Racing Ferrari F458 GTE-Am:
Please share a little about the recent Michelin Tire test and looking forward at the tire change for Silverstone.
"We have changed tire supplier from Dunlops to Michelins for the remainder of the season and went to do a test at Snetterton a couple of weeks ago to try to get an idea what the balance difference would be between the two tires. I think we found it is going to be quite a bit of difference and we're working on the balance. It felt like we got a very good balance on the new Michelin tire. Hopefully that will give us a huge benefit for the Silverstone race, where we had big issues last year when we couldn't get the tire temp up to the proper temps to get the grip out of the tire. This tire is much broader working temperature and that should definitely help us at Silverstone this year."
Tell us some of the things you like or don't like about the Silverstone Circuit.
"Silverstone is obviously a world-class facility, so it's always nice to come to a track that has everything that you can ask for – great runoff areas, great pit lane garage areas, and professional marshals. Everything is very first-class there and that makes the driver much more confident and comfortable. The track layout is also very challenging. You have fast sections of the track, sweeping corners, hard braking zones, sharp turns, really fast combinations, so it has a little bit of everything, which I think a race track should have. In my opinion, after having raced in Silverstone many years ago, is it is still one of the best race tracks in the world. I think we are very fortunate to have the opportunity to race there with the WEC and the Krohn Racing team every year. It's a challenge but it's a great opportunity for us to come there and showcase what the Krohn Racing team is all about.
Do you have some momentum coming in to Silverstone after having a big podium finish at Le Mans?
"As far as momentum goes, I think we are very confident in what we do. We know we have one of the best teams, the best engineering and the best driver line-up. From a confidence standpoint, I think we always have that. Definitely, to get the momentum and just show that we are one of the quickest team, even though we have a little bad luck the first couple of race. At Sebring we were definitely the quickest car but had a technical mishap. I think with the podium finish at Le Mans, not just us but everybody else realized that Krohn Racing is on top of the game and are going to be a contender for the rest of the year. That always helps when you get other people looking at you and worrying about you. That probably helps more than your own confidence that others are worrying about you and they maybe lose a little bit of their focus. I think we are one of the contenders being viewed by the competition. It's great momentum to have going into Silverstone and build on that from Le Mans. We hope to have an even stronger finish in Silverstone to get us closer in the points for the last four races in the championship."
MICHELE RUGOLO, No. 57 Krohn Racing Ferrari F458 GTE-Am:
You are returning to Silverstone, where you have competed on both the old circuit and new circuit. What are some of the things you like and don't like about the Silverstone circuit?
"I think Silverstone is a very nice circuit. It kept the same features that it used to have on the old version. It's a pretty fast track where the rhythm is high."
The Krohn Racing team is coming off a podium finish at Le Mans. Does that give you momentum coming in to the next race on the schedule?
"Le Mans has been a good result for us but we need to be focused on the next events. The Championship is very long and with this score system it's pretty difficult to compete with just one car but we will do our best to give to the other cars a difficult time."
Competition has been very tough in the GTE-Am class. Please share your thoughts about that.
"The championship is difficult, especially in the GTE-AM class where there are many cars. From our side now we need a win to give a sign also from a psychological point of view."
UK and European fans are really knowledgeable about sports car racing. Tell us what it's like as a driver to have so many great fans at the races.
"The best event of the year is for sure Le Mans, but UK is an important country for motorsport and you can understand it from the fans that you can find in the circuit. It's very nice to talk to the people in the circuit. Anyway I still think the best place to drive for the fans is in USA."
DAVID BROWN, Krohn Racing Team Manager/Race Engineer:
Please share a little about the recent Michelin Tire test and the challenges of changing tires mid-season.
"We had a very productive two-day test in perfect conditions at Snetterton. It was our first outing on the Michelin tires and we were very impressed by their performance and consistency. We already have a great relationship with the Michelin engineers and the strength of this relationship will be the biggest assistance to us adapting to different tires mid-season. We have an increased confidence level for the rest of the season leaving Snetterton and going to Silverstone."
Weather is always variable at Silverstone. How do you prepare for varying conditions?
"Making the car easy to drive in a variety of conditions and over the range of drivers we have is key to success."
The team is coming off a big podium finish at Le Mans. Does that give everyone momentum coming into the next race?
"We are ready to meet the challenges of the last five races head-on. It will be to our advantage to run on new tracks, so we look forward to the rest of the season with great anticipation."
The competition in the GTE-class is tough and the bar is continually raised. What does Krohn Racing have to do to win the championship this year?
"We need to be fast, reliable and consistent, across the whole team. We need to use all the skills and experience we have to overcome the opposition, which is strong and working as hard as we are. We need to be smarter, faster, and more skillful and we will beat them."
JEFF HAZELL, Krohn Racing Motorsport Manager:
Krohn Racing has changed to Michelin tires and did a recent tire test in the UK. What are the team's hopes and expectations moving forward with a new tire manufacturer for the balance of the 2012 WEC season?
"Team staff and drivers at Krohn Racing have extensive experience of working with Michelin on previous programs, all with good effect, so Michelin's tire performance and service is well known. The new element is that for the first time in two years we will be on the same tire as our closest competitors. Until now we may have had tires that may have been faster, slower, or of similar performance compared with our competitors. Now we will get a much better comparison of our car and our ability to set it up and operate it, against the competition."
The FIA WEC seems to have garnered much attention from top teams who want to participate in the series as it grows, while other sports car series are fading. How has Krohn Racing been enjoying the series and what are your hopes for 2012 and beyond?
"We really enjoy the WEC. It is operated to World Championship Standards and the FIA and ACO have a solid set of regulations and effective race management. Series without these qualities seldom survive. However, we do struggle in the WEC as a single car team. The team championship points scoring provides a two-car team with the opportunity to collect points from their highest placed car. Of the 29 WEC entries there are only five two-car teams competing; two in LMP1 and one in all other classes. The rule is apparently to encourage two-car teams, but single car teams need no encouragement. Running a second car is a common goal but very difficult to achieve in this economy. So the rule actually deters new single car teams! We would like to see the rule changed and we believe that more teams would then enter the WEC."
Round Five of the 2012 WEC will be the 6 Hours of Sao Paulo, scheduled on September 15 at the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace (aka Interlagos) in Brazil.
For more information, please go to www.fiawec.com.