Thursday, 21 June 2012 08:18

Nic's Blog: My 2012 Le Mans Experience

Exhilarating and an unbelievable experience are a few words that explain a finish and completion of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. I had another opportunity to compete at Le Mans this year with Krohn Racing and my teammates Michele Rugolo and my good friend, Tracy Krohn.

Just to have the fortune and opportunity to race at the holy grounds of the 24 Hours of Le Mans once is a blessing, and get to experience the whole week-long spectacle with tech inspection downtown, along with the drivers parade is unbelievable.

For me this was my seventh Le Mans race and third podium finish. I've had Tracy Krohn as my co-driver every time and Michele for the second year in a row.

We were really struggling in practice and qualifying to get a good balance of the car and the main reason for this was the fact we could not get any temperature in the tires to give us the grip we needed. We tried everything we possibly could and got the car some what drivable and consistent before the race, but the real speed was not there that we felt we needed to compete for the win. But Le Mans is as much about strategy, consistency, to stay out of trouble and reliability as it is speed. Our Krohn Racing crew is very experienced and good and they gave us a great, safe car again, along with fantastic, fast pit stops that kept us in contention through the night. When the sun came up on Sunday morning we had been able to move up through the field and found ourselves in third place.

This was a great execution from all the crew guys who had done a brake change, along with regular service of the car at night, flawlessly and with driver rotations that had been solid all the way through.

When we had entered the last third of the race, we knew it was time to start thinking a little more about strategy and pick up the pace that we hopefully had left in the car to see if we could catch the cars in front and keep the distance to the cars charging from behind. I did a double stint in the early morning hours with the car being very difficult to drive due to changing track conditions, along with having a suitable tire for these conditions. After this stint we decided to try a different type of tire that transformed the car to a very good, consistent and fast race car. With this car we know we had a great chance to finish on the podium so our focus was to make sure we had solid, good pit stops and didn't take any chances on track that would jeopardize the chance of a podium finish.

We held on and finished third at Le Mans. This felt very good after all the difficulties we had in practice to get the car sorted out.

After 24 hours, when you are tired your body is aching from driving eight to ten hours, it's an unbelievable experience and feeling to hear your name be called out and asked to walk up to the podium and over look the cheering crowd down below. This feeling can't be explained in words, it has to be experienced. To be standing there with your teammates and know we have accomplished something that very few people in the world get to experience is a very special feeling.

I feel very blessed to be a part of the Krohn Racing Team and looking forward to the rest of the WEC championship this season, and hopefully go back to Le Mans next season and try to win. Next on my agenda is the race in the Grand-Am Continental Tire Series at Road America this weekend with my Kinetic Motorsports and Kia Forte Koups. My teammate and I are currently leading the points and are hoping to be able to extend that this weekend. I'm home for a few days and off to Watkins Glen the following weekend for another race in the CTCC with Kinetic and Kia. After this race I will travel to Sweden with my lovely wife and son for a couple of weeks' vacation in our summer house and spend time with friends and family.

Till next time -- take care and be careful. Thank you for all the support from all you fans!

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