Rugolo, Krohn, Jonsson at Le Mans in 2011 - Krohn Racing photoEnlarge Photo
Krohn Racing, a staple in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) GT ranks racing a Ferrari F430 - and a competitor in last year's Intercontinental Le Mans Cup (ILMC) and 24 Hours of Le Mans with a similar car in the GTE-Am sector - has decided to cast its fate with the new FIA World Endurance Championship in 2012.
Team owner/driver Tracy Krohn explained, "Our plan is to run the full season of the World Endurance Championship in 2012 with the new Ferrari 458 Italia GT. They have added one more venue this year so it will be a total of eight races including Le Mans and Sebring, so we're very excited. Some of the tracks we have seen, and some will be new to us. We're looking forward to flying the American flag around the world and believe 2012 will be a banner year for us. The idea is to make it even better than last year," he said.
In addition to Krohn, the WEC lineup includes longtime teammate and friend, Swede Nic Jonsson and Italian Ferrari sports car standout Michele Rugolo. This trio were teammates for the 2011 ILMC Series - with enough success and driver style symbiosis to make 2012 driver selections a natural repeat, the team said.
The US-based squad, located at the entryway to the famed Road Atlanta road course, finished second in the 2011 ILMC GTE-Am class, the predecessor to the new WEC. Krohn Racing earned two victories in their home country: at the 12 Hours of Sebring and Petit Le Mans, which bookended the ILMC campaign. Krohn Racing also finished third in class at the Six Hours of Zhuhai in China, celebrating a third podium. An unfortunate DNF at Le Mans, where double points are awarded, foiled their chances for an overall GTE-Am class championship.
Krohn Racing is the sole American racing team attempting to run a full campaign in the World Endurance Championship for sports cars.
"I think any time you come into an inaugural season and you have a podium finish for the season, you should be happy with that," Krohn said. "Second overall is a good result; had we not had some pretty bad luck at Le Mans with the motor and crankshaft, we would have won it!"
Krohn is taking on the best teams and drivers in the world because he carefully selected his group. "These are internationally experienced specialists; managers, engineers, technicians and logistics staff," added Jeff Hazell, Krohn Racing motorsports manager. "We have a committed team owner and great support from Ferrari, Michelotto and Dunlop. The logistics and engineering operations of a world championship team requires no less a combination. Racing at this level is a serious challenge," Hazell added, "but we felt equipped. If you think you are good, you need to prove it!"
While the Michelotto-constructed Ferrari 458 Italia was new to GTE-Pro competition last year and not permitted in the GTE-Am class, the car has been proven in competition and and is allowed entry in the WEC for 2012. While Hazell believes the F430 is still fast, reliable and capable of winning, "We race Ferraris and we feel that means whenever possible we should race their current model in front of the world media, contribute to the further development of the race car and put it into the winner's circle."
With direct injection in the new Ferrari 458 Italia, "We expect the car should certainly be easier to drive. The direct injection should aid response and fuel economy and it also has another little advantage in the gearing, that it will be paddle shift, as opposed to regular stick shift, and that will be more fun to drive," Krohn said. "I've driven the street car and ti's a completely different feel than the 430; it's a great car."
Krohn's team manager/race engineer David Brown considers the new car, "A step forward in drivability and reliability. So far the newly built car (received in December of 2011), has only completed a hand-over shakedown test," he said. "We will do a single day test locally near the Atlanta shop to check out our systems and installations on a track we know well, then go to the official Sebring test in early February."