Houston, Texas (September 4, 2015)...Krohn Racing announced Frenchman Olivier Pla will join team owner/driver Tracy W. Krohn and Nic Jonsson for the 4 Hours of Le Castellet for the European Le Mans Series (ELMS) penultimate round at Circuit Paul Ricard in Le Castellet, France on September 5-6, 2015.
Pla, from Toulouse, France, previously raced with the Krohn/Jonsson duo at the 12 Hours of Sebring in March and will fill the third driver seat in the No. 40 Krohn Racing Ligier JS P2 Judd-powered LMP2. Brazilian Oswaldo (Ozz) Negri, Jr. and Frenchman Julien Canal have been previous co-drivers during the 2015 ELMS season.
Pla, who has two 8 Hours of Castellet endurance races under his belt, including a fourth-place finish in 2011 in the Quifel ASM Team Zytek LMP1, has also completed many hours of testing for Onroak Automotive in the Ligier JSP2 on the 5.861 kilometers/3.64 miles French circuit. Pla previously joined Krohn Racing for the 24 Hours of Daytona (DNF) and 12 Hours of Sebring, where he collected the pole and the team finished in sixth place.
Krohn Racing has three Top Five finishes in ELMS this season, including fourth at the 4 Hours of Silverstone (with drivers Krohn, Jonsson and Ozz Negri) and fifth at both the 4 Hours of Imola (with drivers Krohn, Jonsson and Negri) and 4 Hours of Red Bull Ring (with Krohn, Jonsson and Julien Canal). Krohn Racing also competed in the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans, where they finished a hard-fought 12th-place with drivers Krohn, Jonsson and Joao Barbosa.
TRACY W. KROHN, Krohn Racing Team Owner/Driver:
You previously tested at Paul Ricard earlier this year. What do you think about the circuit?
"We tested at the prologue at Paul Ricard in March and we learned this circuit, which will be helpful for me because this season we are going to many new track in the ELMS. Both Onroak Automotive and Michelin have used Paul Ricard as a testing facility so we hope the knowledge from both of our partners will help us in the set-up from the start."
It will undoubtedly be great to have Olivier back in the Ligier with you and Nic for this weekend's 4 Hours of Paul Ricard race.
"It will be great to have Olivier back with us at Paul Ricard this weekend. He was a big asset to us earlier this season when we first started racing the Ligier to help us learn the nuances of the new car. When the Nissan program stepped back and he became available, we decided to ask if he wanted to come back and race at Paul Ricard with us. He's very knowledgeable of the circuit and, of course, with the Ligier, so we hope he can advance us further along again this week. He's also just a great guy and we enjoy working with him. He fits right in with the team and with Nic and me."
OLIVIER PLA, Krohn Racing, Driver:
We are glad to welcome you back to Krohn Racing for the upcoming ELMS race at Paul Ricard. Please share your thoughts about returning to Krohn Racing, with whom you previously raced at the Rolex 24 at Daytona and the 12 Hours of Sebring earlier this year.
“I have to say it was unexpected and it was a very good surprise when I got the email from Gary (Holland, Krohn racing Team Manager) saying he would like me to do the Paul Ricard race with the team. Since the beginning I really enjoyed working with this team. The pole in the Sebring 12 Hours and leading the first hours was a very good memory and I will give everything to continue to build on that.”
You will bringing much experience of the Paul Ricard circuit to the team. Tell us about your past racing and testing experience at the Paul Ricard circuit.
“Yes, obviously I know the track very well. I did a lot of testing and raced over there and I just can't wait to go back in the Ligier around this place! The biggest unknown for me are the Michelin tires, but it shouldn't be a problem with the experience of the team.”
You are going to be competing again in the Ligier, a car you were greatly involved with as a test driver for Onroak Automotive. How suited is the Ligier for the Paul Ricard circuit?
“I think the car should been good. Paul Ricard is always a compromise between straight-line speed and downforce in the fast corner, and I think it will suit our car very well. The track is also demanding on the tires but looking at my past experience with the Ligier, the car is very easy on the tires."
NIC JONSSON, Krohn Racing, Driver:
What do you think about having Olivier Pla back in the cockpit with you and Tracy at Le Castellet?
"Olivier is a very accomplished and good driver with a great amount of LMP2 experience and knowledge of both the Ligier chassis and the Paul Ricard circuit. We're glad he could join us again and hope his knowledge will benefit everyone on the team, from Tracy and me behind the wheel, to the engineers and mechanics on the car."
You and Tracy tested previously at Paul Ricard. How well do you think the Ligier is suited for the circuit?
"I’m pretty confident that the Ligier chassis is well suited for the Paul Ricard circuit. This is a circuit that a lot of the development has been done on the Ligier and should therefore suit well. The Michelin tire that Krohn Racing is racing on has been mainly developed at the Ricard circuit, so this should be a great combination and be of immense suitability for the Krohn Racing Ligier-Judd machine."
HAYDEN BURVILL, Krohn Racing, Race Engineer:
You have Olivier Pla returning to the team. What do you hope he can bring with his experience for setting up the Ligier-Judd and racing at the Paul Ricard circuit?
“We know Oli well now from his initial involvement in our first test drive of the JSP2 in 2014, through Daytona 2015 and, of course, the pole at Sebring this year. I know Oli will bring his aggressive style to Krohn Racing and with just two races left in the ELMS Championship, he will give us a new impetus to find that extra bit of speed we have been lacking.”
What are your expectations of how the trio of Tracy, Nic and Olivier will work together?
“I expect Tracy, Nic and Oli will all work together to find the best way to get the fastest green flag speed potential for the four hours race at Le Castellet. They previously worked together at both Daytona and Sebring, and with good result, so we expect the collaboration to again be beneficial. It will be a lively weekend and it's always exciting when the team has a chance to race with higher potential, no matter how that is accomplished.”
What do you know about, or what is your experience with the Paul Ricard circuit?
“My experience at Paul Ricard is pretty limited. I have tested there long ago with F1, and earlier this year we had a single day running in a JSP2 for the ELMS Prologue. It’s a circuit where the wind and track temperatures can be major factors. It's also a track where top speed and downforce are readily exchanged for advantages on different parts of the track. For me, the goal is to continue the streak of error-free races by Krohn Racing."
GARY HOLLAND, Krohn Racing, Team Manager:
Share with us about this idea to invite Olivier Pla to rejoin Krohn Racing for the ELMS race at Paul Ricard and how it came together.
“We already have a good relationship with Oli following him working with us for Daytona and Sebring earlier this year. We have all kept in touch with him and followed him with his factory role in LMP1 with Nissan, closely wishing him the best. With the recent news of Nissan concentrating on testing before returning to competition, the chance to use Oli at Paul Ricard presented itself. With Nic recently re-classified as a Silver driver, and Tracy, of course, a Bronze, this allowed us to bring Oli back as Platinum with no repercussions to the balance of the team. By using Oli, we have one eye on some of our 2016 technical decisions that need to be made. We would also like to thank Nissan for allowing Olivier to drive with us at Paul Ricard."
What is the Krohn Racing team hoping to accomplish by using Pla's deep experience with the Ligier ad the Paul Ricard circuit?
“We are looking to use Oli’s experience at Paul Ricard to really utilize our track time. The ELMS weekend is very compact and any previous experience Oli has is a benefit to us as a team. This is the first time we have been to any of the ELMS circuits with a P2 car, so we really are on a very steep learning curve every weekend.”
Two practice sessions are scheduled for Saturday, September 5, with a 20-minute qualifying session for the LMP2 class on Sunday morning, September 6, shortly before the 4 Hours of Paul Ricard ELMS race goes green from 1:00-4:00 p.m. local time (6:00–10:00 a.m. EDT).
You can follow the Paul Richard ELMS action for qualifying and the race streamed live on Sunday, September 6, on the official website at www.europeanlemansseries.com along with live timing and scoring.