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JONSSON: Paul Ricard Debrief

Nic Jonsson files his latest Sportscar365 column following Paul Ricard…

Photo: Laurent Chauveau/Endurance-Info

Photo: Laurent Chauveau/Endurance-Info

Paul Ricard is a very historical race track located in the southern part of France. The surroundings are absolutely fantastic and breathtaking.

The fourth round of the ELMS season was hosted at this great facility the past weekend. The facility offers everything from the big historical race track, to state of the art go kart, off road, tech and driving center, as well as test facilities, along with simulator studios, etc.

Interesting enough, this facility was originally built as a test and development track, so the pit in and exit is a little challenging with blind exit and entry. However, it was just too great of a track to not be used as a race facility.

One of the most different things is the run-off areas at this track. There are no gravel traps, everything is paved outside the white line and curbing, with huge blue and red stripes.

This invites you to push a little extra since it gives you a better chance to recover if you make a mistake, but this also becomes very challenging for the stewards to make sure they police the track limits.

There were lots of penalties handed out this weekend for just that reason. It’s also hard for the driver to judge the depth of the corner. This may sound strange, but the big stripes makes it very confusing in the beginning.

We were excited to be back racing again after a long break. We had been to this track for the Prologue earlier in the year, mainly in wet conditions. It took a little time to get used to all the high speed sections of the track, especially since we just had two 90-minute sessions between three drivers.

Tracy and I had Oli Pla as our teammate this weekend. Oli has extensive experience at the track and also the Ligier car, so it was helpful to have him to lean on for information.

It was also a great help to have Ozz Negri there as an extra pair of eyes to get valuable input from what he saw from outside the car, and what other teams were doing in different sections of the track.

We had a well-balanced car for the race. The challenge for me was to be able to double-stint my tires and make sure I paced myself without loosing to much time and not hurting the tires.

Being just one of two teams on Michelin tires, we did not have a whole lot of data to go on, so we decided to run a little higher downforce level than most other teams to try to conserve and take care of the tires a little more.

I do believe this was the right decision, even though we struggled to keep up with other cars on the long back straightaway. It’s always a compromise to be fast on the straight line or try to conserve the tire, but the Krohn team gave us a solid well-balanced car that gave us the opportunity to have another top five finish.

You obviously always want to win, but I think everyone did a great, solid job.

Oli did a immense job finishing the race and being the fastest car on track the last 30 minutes. It showed that we had done a first-rate job by achieving a good set up, and had a fine plan how we managed our tires through out the weekend.

I want to say a big thank you to the whole Krohn Racing team for all their efforts and hard work that allowed us to have another solid and respectable top-5 result.

Before heading to the last race of the season at Estoril in Portugal in mid-October with Krohn Racing in ELMS in the LMP2 class with our Judd-Powered Ligier, I’m heading to Laguna Seca this weekend for the final round of the Pirelli World Challenge with my Kinetic Motorsports and KIA racing.

We have a tough and difficult task ahead of us to try to defend our championship in the TCA class with Jason Wolf, Samantha Tan and Kris Wright, but also to try to keep our KIA Optima Turbos in the GTS class upfront in a very fierce and competitive field.

Until next time, be safe and take care of each other. Be safe, have fun and GO FAST!!

Nic Jönsson is a former Swedish F3 and Group N Touring Car champion and current sports car star, with numerous international victories to his credit. He drives for Krohn Racing in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship and European Le Mans Series.

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