Krohn Racing is returning to the international series after having competed this past June with the FIA WEC at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in France, where the team finished 10th in the GTE-Am class. The Houston-based Krohn Racing is again joining the GTE-Am field of competitors for the six-hour enduro hosted at their home track, Circuit of the Americas.
Team owner/driver Tracy W. Krohn will share his No. 57 Ferrari F458 with long-time teammate Nic Jonsson and a familiar face, Ben Collins, for the this week's event at the 3.4-mile Texas circuit. Collins, who has been racing for 20 years and portrayed "The Stig" on BBC's Top Gear from 2003 until 2010, first teamed up with Krohn and Jonsson for this year's 24 Hours of Le Mans and is eager to experience COTA for the first time.
Krohn Racing has taken to the tight curves and huge elevation changes at Circuit of the Americas only twice before, as the facility opened less than two years ago in October of 2012. Last March, the team raced their green-and-blue Daytona Prototype during the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series event to a sixth-place finish and returned later in the season for the WEC Six Hours of Austin, where they brought the Ferrari F458 to the checkered flag in the eighth position.
For the 2014 season, Krohn Racing has competed in selected IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship races, which will be sharing the track with the WEC for the Lone Star Le Mans weekend. Krohn Racing has achieved a highest finishing position of fourth so far this season with IMSA, an honor the team took at the 12 Hours of Sebring in March.
Both the TUDOR Championship and the FIA WEC will race on Saturday, giving fans a double-header of action-packed sportscar racing to look forward to. The IMSA TUDOR Championship race is from 11:35 a.m.-2:20 p.m. local time and the WEC takes the green flag at 5:00 p.m. and finishes their six-hour race under the lights at 11:00 p.m. CDT.
TRACY W. KROHN, Krohn Racing Team Owner/Driver, No. 57 Krohn Racing Ferrari F458 GTE-Am:
Krohn Racing is taking to their home track for the third time in two years. What does it mean to get to race in front of your family and friends on your home turf?
"COTA is now our home track as our race shop is based in Houston. I'm born and raised in Texas and spent most of my life here and Louisiana so it is always great to be home. The track is just a 25-minute short flight from home. We have a lot of guests coming out to watch us race this weekend so we really hope to put on a good show in front of our family and friends."
This will be your second year racing at COTA in the WEC. What do you like most about racing in the international series and why did you chose it instead of the originally planned IMSA race?
"The WEC endurance format really suits us well. As I don't make my living as a race car driver, the GTE-Am class is a good fit for me with two professional drivers. It is very challenging to compete in the IMSA GTLM class up against the manufacturers and all pro drivers. That's why we chose to switch to the WEC for this race, since we had the option to do so with the Ferrari. Racing for six hours gives me more seat time and us a better chance against other GTE-Am teams. We hope our experience here will benefit our results."
The facility in Austin is top notch. What do you enjoy about the COTA circuit?
"It is a first-class facility and we enjoy both the circuit and Austin itself. The track is very physical with all the turns and drivers really have to focus. Being in the slowest class adds another element of focus required because the faster cars are always looking for ways to pass you. Texas is hot this time of year but the evening into night race should make that a little better. However, when you add the limited lighting at the circuit and racing in darkness for part of the time, it should make for some interesting racing."
NIC JONSSON, Driver, No. 57 Krohn Racing Ferrari F458 GTE-Am:
You've raced at COTA in both a prototype and a GT car. What strengths does the Krohn Racing Ferrari have that this circuit plays to?
"The track is really designed and built for high downforce cars. It was originally designed for Formula One, so the GT car is a little trickier to drive there because there's not really high-speed complexes that you need to really be able to keep momentum all the way through. You really have to think ahead in a GT car at COTA and not race too hard through the corner because you're just going to get out of rhythm and end up having to slow down way too much. But, the (Ferrari) 458 is a great car. The crew did an outstanding job setting it up for us at the test and I'm sure that will be the same case this weekend. I'm looking forward to getting back on the circuit."
Krohn Racing has gotten a fair share of endurance racing in this season. What are you expecting for this six-hour in the GTE-Am class?
"I think with longer races it feels like we do real well. We have a very good understanding for how to manage tires, manage brakes and generally be quick, but also stay out of trouble. We understand that kind of formula. With the longer races, you want to keep all things in shape and that will have the better outcome. With the driver line up we have, myself, Tracy and Ben Collins back in the car, I feel we can go in being competitive off the bat. Completing the test at COTA recently is obviously going to be helpful to have a good baseline to get right up to speed."
How do you feel about having Ben Collins rejoin the team for COTA after having co-driven with you and Tracy at Le Mans?
"When we were looking at a third driver for this endurance race we were obviously looking for somebody with experience and also for somebody that's proven himself. Ben's obviously experienced enough having had a good career in racing. I think he did an impressive job for us in Le Mans and we expect the same approach again and that's the reason why he's back. I think Ben will get in the car and get right up to speed as he did at Le Mans. I think he'll do a phenomenal job again with this race and along with the experience brought by myself and with Tracy, I think we make a strong package."
BEN COLLINS, Driver, No. 57 Krohn Racing Ferrari F458 GTE-Am:
You're rejoining Krohn Racing for the Six Hours of Circuit of the Americas after competing with the team at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. What aspects are you most excited about to again compete with the team in Texas?
"We had a great run at Le Mans and the Krohn Racing crew was fantastic to work with, so I was delighted when they asked me to come back for another round of FIA WEC in Texas. Being their home race, I'm sure that the whole team will be primed and from my perspective, this is an opportunity to make good on the promise we showed at Le Mans before a glitch cost us a podium finish."
Having never raced at COTA before, what are you envisioning will be the biggest challenge for you to get up to speed?
"I'm confident of getting up to speed quickly. It always feels like a challenge to learn a new circuit in a short space of time because there are nuances that keep revealing themselves during a long distance race when you're preserving the tires and chasing the stopwatch. COTA is technically very demanding because every corner is closely linked to the one that follows. I hope to take advantage of that by optimizing the car's setup with the team and pressuring our competitors."
What is it you enjoy the most about competing in the Ferrari F458?
"The Ferrari 458 is an exciting beast to drive with plenty of movement across the rear axle and a lively response on the brakes. What I enjoy most is dialing in the suspension so that the rodeo ride produces winning pace and I can't wait to get back in the saddle of the mean, green, Krohn Racing speed machine."
HAYDEN BURVILL, Krohn Racing Engineer:
What transitions has the team made or will the team make to come back to racing in the WEC from the IMSA TUDOR Championship?
"The transition exists on many levels. There are the numerous changes to the car to accommodate the differences in technical regulations between IMSA and the WEC. These include a variation in areas of aerodynamics, fuel capacity, engine power output and fuel chemistry, electronics and communications. There are also strategic changes in our approach as we are competing in the GTE-Am category and there are driving time limits that must be observed. The spread of classes and the spread of performance between our car in GTE-Am and the LMP1 cars also require a different consideration in how we communicate with the car during the race. Our pit lane arrangements for the race are different too, being garage based instead of timing stand based means we will be working from a slightly different environment during the race too. Of course, the length of the WEC race is more than double an IMSA sprint race, so in terms of cadence and concentration; these are metered differently as well."
What are the keys to success for racing at COTA in this six-hour endurance event?
"As always, primary key is uniform preparation in all areas. We have recently completed a one-day test at COTA and that has helped us to roll off the truck with a balanced WEC spec set-up for the F458 that we developed in cooperation with Risi Competizione. We were also able to complete valuable tire testing in the unique WEC GTE-Am tire specification and anticipated race-like weather conditions. This will be a unique advantage in the GTE-Am field.
"Our only other GTE-Am WEC race this year was at Le Mans. We were competitive at Le Mans and I would expect to be equally competitive at COTA. We don't really know the racing character of our GTE-Am competitors as well as we might, but I expect the home soil advantage will offset that. The flip-side of that apparent disadvantage is also true of and the visiting GTE-Am cars will not know exactly how to strategize against the Krohn Racing F458. The race will be an interesting challenge with its day-night format and the comparably poorly lit regions of the COTA circuit. The car must be correctly prepared for that unique challenge. The team is well prepared after a long break from the Watkins Glen six-hour race and I am looking forward to the track walk and first practice session of the race meeting, then getting into the rhythm of a another exciting WEC event."
The green flag will drop on the FIA WEC Six Hours of Circuit of the Americas at 5:00 p.m. CDT on Saturday, September 20. The race will be televised live for the full six hours on FOX Sports 2 beginning at 6:00 p.m. EDT in the U.S. It will mark the first FIA WEC round, other than the 24 Hours of Le Mans, to be televised live in North America.