After having started the season in the U.S. and the TUDOR SportsCar Championship with the new Krohn Racing Judd-powered Ligier JS P2 LMP2 car with the Daytona 24 hours and Sebring 12 hours, it was time to get the season started in the European Le Mans Series.
Krohn Racing decided to put its main focus for the 2015 season in this series. What’s new for us this year is that we have graduated up to the top class (LMP2) for this season.
The competition in the ELMS is very stiff and deep with very high quality teams and world-class drivers.
There are rising young stars and very experienced drivers with F1, GP2, World Series, LMP1 experience and more on their resumes. Even Audi uses this series to keep some of their drivers sharp and to get seat and race experience for several of their LMP1 drivers who don’t do the full schedule in the WEC.
We had moderate expectations for this first weekend at Silverstone, but were aiming for a Top-five finish. When I first arrived I thought I had gone to the wrong place, as it was sunny and about 63 degrees.
I thought to myself, ‘This can’t be Silverstone!’ But it was! But don’t worry, when race day rolled around it was rainy, 45F and really windy. Now it felt like Silverstone!
There is limited track time in a two-day event like this. We get a total of two and a half-hours of practice. It may not sound so bad, but if you take into account that you have three drivers that need their share of that time to get comfortable, get a grip of the track and balance of the car, and especially if you have something go wrong.
It does not take long before you fall behind the curve. This happened for us this weekend. Since we had not been to Silverstone with this car before we had some difficulties with both chassis tuning and engine electronics and we lost the whole first hour of practice.
This really put us behind. We decided to use the 20-minute qualifying session as a test session as well to try to get a solid and safe car for the race. We did not get the ultimate speed out of the car, but we all agreed that we needed a solid, safe car for the race and to make sure we did a solid job and finished the race.
Tracy and I have been racing together for 11 years this year, so we are very comfortable and familiar with what we like and want. For this ELMS season we have added an old friend and world class driver to our line up in Oswaldo Negri. Ozz brings a great wealth of experience, race craft and speed, along with his very dedicated mind and professionalism.
After we qualified at the end of the field, we decided to have Ozz start the race to get a good understanding of the tire and set up for a longer stint. Ozz was moving up steadily and was up to fifth place after his double stint with a solid drive.
Tracy got in the car and kept doing a great job with a steady and consistent performance and kept the car in a good position. I was selected to finish the last two stints of the race. We had a good, solid pit stop between Tracy and me.
Right when I pulled out of the pits the safety car was deployed for about 10 minutes to clean up after a couple of cars that had got together. When the green flag came out again I settled in after getting a feel for the balance of the car.
I knew I had to make sure to manage and take care of the tires since we have a limitation of three sets for the race and qualifying. I needed to make sure I could double stint the tires. The car felt better then in practice so I started to get comfortable and was able to run a steady, good race pace consistent with the leader’s pace.
For my first stint I had a little too much understeer so we made a pressure adjustments to the rear tires for my last stint. This improved the front understeer, but towards the end of the race I started to have oversteer in the high speed corners and lack of rear grip of the slow speed corners when trying to apply power.
However we had a good, solid and clean run and were able to move up to a fourth place finish that we are pleased with considering the challenges we faced in practice.
We are very excited about the rest of the season and the next round, May 15-16, at Imola in Italy. This is a historic and fantastic race track with great challenges for the drivers.
The whole Krohn Racing team did a great job and the crew gave us a solid car for the race that ended with a respectable fourth place finish.
We feel we had a good, concrete start to the season, with great expectations for the rest of the year.
Till next time, be safe look out and take care of each other. See you at the races!