The second round of the European Le Mans Series season was at the very historical and emotional Imola circuit.
The track is located along the river that flows through a park in downtown Imola, Italy. What makes this place historical is all the fantastic F1 and sportcar events that have been held here over the years, along with the ownership of Ferrari.
From a personal view it’s very emotional to come back to Imola and race, just because of the fact that this was the track where Ayrton Senna lost his life in 1994 due to a horrific accident.
I had the privilege to get to know Ayrton while driving for Honda “Mugen” in F3 while he was driving for McLaren Honda.
In my opinion, along with lot of others across the world, he was one of the most amazing race drivers in history. I feel very fortunate to have had the opportunity to get to know him.
To have had the chance to come back to Imola with Krohn Racing, and my co-drivers, Tracy Krohn and Ozz Negri, in the Krohn Ligier JS P2 car this year was great.
After having a good result in Silverstone (fourth place) about a month ago, we felt ready for a new challenge at this historical track.
Knowing how competitive the ELMS LMP2 class is, you really have to try to take advantage of all the track time available to you.
Since we had never been to this track in the Ligier before, we were faced with our first challenge: rain and a wet track for the first practice session.
With two sessions of one and a half hours we tried to learn as much as we could by getting the gears sorted out, and so forth, through the end of the second session. After tuning on the car, we put a new set of tires on and managed to go fourth fastest.
This was a great surprise since we have had very little time to get the car all sorted out, but the Krohn engineers and crew got the car very close and well-balanced.
We elected to have Tracy qualify the car, and he did a great job getting faster for each lap.
Ozz started the race and did a good, solid job moving up through the field steadily. The track temp was very hot at the start so we made a few changes to compensate for this and that worked really well.
After about 90 minutes, Ozz got out and Tracy got in the car. Tracy kept showing the speed and reliability of the Krohn Ligier-Judd and did a great, solid job for his stint as well.
I got in for the final stint and was told I had to save fuel to be able to make it in just one stop. I had to run in a more conservative fuel map and we were able to make it to the crucial lap we needed before pitting for just fuel.
The car stayed very consistent throughout my run and I felt very comfortable. We were able to run a very competitive pace, while at the same time hit my fuel numbers and save the amount of fuel needed to make it to the end.
The Krohn guys did a great job on all the pit stops all day long. We managed to come home with fifth-place finish and score valuable championship points going into the biggest race of the year, the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
To have two concrete races and results under our belts going into Le Mans feels very good for the whole team and has given us great confidence and belief that we will be competitive at Le Mans.
This will be Tracy’s and my 10th consecutive Le Mans together, but the first in a LMP car. We are really looking forward to going back to the biggest spectacle and race in the world now for a decade together.
Until next time , be safe and take care of each other!