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Risi-Krohn Ferrari Team hopes to apply endurance experience in Monterey

The Krohn-Risi Ferrari team is back at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca this week hoping to apply their endurance racing experience in the American Le Mans Series Monterey presented by Patron race, May 22, 2010. The new six-hour race will pit skilled drivers of 36 cars around the 2.238-mile, 11-turn Northern California road course. Drivers of the No. 61 green-and-blue Risi Competizione-prepared Ferrari 430 GT will be Krohn Racing owner/driver Tracy W. Krohn and teammate Nic Jönsson.

Now in their fourth year partnership of the Risi-Krohn Ferrari, Tracy Krohn and Giuseppe Risi, both of Houston, Texas, are pleased with the success of their efforts. Two podiums in three years at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and a podium at the 12 Hours of Sebring is no small accomplishment for a part-time racing effort. The Risi-Krohn Ferrari team benefits from the full-time effort of the Risi Competizione team. The sister No. 62 Ferrari 430 GT pairs Gianmaria Brunni and Jaime Melo for the Laguna six-hour race. Risi’s endurance successes include victories at the 2008 24 Hours of Le Mans and Petit Le Mans, and the 2009 12 Hours of Sebring, 24 Hours of Le Mans and Petit Le Mans.

TRACY W. KROHN, Krohn Racing Team Owner, Risi-Krohn Ferrari Driver:
You and Nic will both gets lots of seat time at the Laguna event between practice and qualifying of near 3 hours and 6 hours of racing. Do you develop a rhythm the more you drive the car?

“Clearly this much seat time is a real plus for me, but it also gives us some time to make sure that the set-up on the car is as good as we can make it and that the team is in sync with all the tire changes and driver changes that will occur. Since this is not what I do for a living, it is very important for me to get as much seat time as I can to not only pick up a rhythm, but to work on race craft in traffic, because this track will be very busy due to the general low grip and sheer number of cars and 4 different classes!”

You’ve said before that the Ferrari is a car well-suited for a race track like Laguna Seca. Please share with us why and how.
“Since the Ferrari 430 GT-2 is primarily relying on mechanical grip and not aero grip, this could certainly play to our favor at this track compared to the LMP challenge cars, as we should be better in the slower speed turns like 2, 3, the cork screw, and turn 11. Look for lots of action between GT-2 cars and LMP challenge cars. Of course we will have the same issue with the GTC cars as well except that they are quicker in a straight line due to a narrower front end, but the GT-2 cars are much better in the corners and under braking due to having bigger tires. It should be lots of fun in traffic!! Of course, we are always looking in our mirrors for P1 and P2 cars as well! Set-up will be key to good performance here as this track is notoriously low grip and track conditions will change as we go into the night!”

The American Le Mans Series continues to be a very challenging race series and even more so in the GT2 class. How do you balance focus, patience and speed in an endurance race in a class and series as challenging as it?
“Focus is very important for any race, but clearly the GT-2 class in ALMS is just ridiculously competitive because so many of the major manufacturers are represented in this class! Patience will be the most important thing for this race because passing zones are limited and there will be a high car count. Also, with limited grip, patience runs thin when drivers are dealing with traffic, their rear view mirrors and fairly minor differences between some of the classes, and do not forget that we are competing with some of the best sports car drivers in the world as well.”

NIC JONSSON, Risi-Krohn Ferrari Driver:
The Laguna ALMS 6-hour race is a good practice run or precursor event for Le Mans. What do you hope to accomplish at this event? Is this like a test run for the 24 Hours of Le Mans for you and Tracy?

“The goal is to get back up to speed in the Ferrari. We haven’t driven it since Sebring. The goal is to familiarize again with the Michelin tires and the whole package of the Ferrari 430 as well as work with the team we are going to Le Mans with. We plan to get a lot of seat time. It’s a six-hour race. It’s great for both Tracy and me to get real valuable seat time. It’s very tough competition because we are going up against the factory cars, team and drivers. These are some of the best teams in the world. We don’t have any expectation. A good result would be to finish the six hours in one piece and have a good run with a lot of seat time and good feedback to go into Le Mans. That’s our goal and I think that’s going to be a huge achievement for us to finish the six hour race without having any problems.”

How do you feel the Ferrari stacks up at a track like Laguna Seca?
“The Ferrari has been a very successful and competitive race car since it first came out about five years ago. For us it’s been a very good car and package to drive, easy to feel. The car gives you very good feedback through your hands and wheel. We’re very pleased with the Ferrari package and the Risi Competizione team that prepares the car for Krohn Racing for the ALMS races and Le Mans. They have done a stellar job for us over the last four years and we expect the same again, as far as preparation and support. That’s what we’re really looking forward to – to get plugged in to a team that runs full schedule. We can benefit from the work and development they do because we’re running the same car with the same upgrades. We get to share data and most of the crew goes on both cars. We both know both Engineers on both cars so it is very easy and very good to work with them on the big team. You never feel like you are coming in as a second fiddle. You always feel like you get the support back that the first car does. That’s a huge benefit. I don’t think there are many teams that will supply that type of support at this level of racing we get from just running selected events.”

Laguna Seca is a special place for you – having been the site of your first U.S. race. Do you put a little more pressure on yourself to succeed at Laguna because of your history here?
“Not really. I don’t put much pressure on myself anymore. I’ve been working at it as a driver for so long now. If for some reason I’m off pace, it’s more down to getting a good set-up on the car or not getting enough seat time as the other guys. I don’t put pressure on myself more than I do anywhere else in wanting to be the best you can for your team and team owner. I put my helmet on and get into my office. Of course if I have a good result at Laguna, I’m very proud since it was the first track I raced on once I landing here on American soil. A good result at Laguna will make me very happy.”