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12/03/2008 - Back to Sebring with Ferrari!

2008 - Ferrari 430 GT2

Risi-Krohn Ferrari Team Ready to Challenge Sebring

The No. 61 Risi-Krohn Ferrari 430GT, prepared by Risi Competizione, is ready to challenge the 56th running of the 12 Hours of Sebring. The Ferrari will be driven by Krohn Racing team owner/driver Tracy W. Krohn, along with teammates Nic Jönsson and Eric van de Poele. The legendary Sebring, Florida-based race is the inaugural event of the 2008 American Le Mans Series (ALMS), scheduled for March 12-15.

Krohn Racing and Risi Competizione, both of Houston, Texas, have paired again in 2008 to field a Ferrari 430 GT in the GT2 class for Sebring and the LMGT2 class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Last year the Risi-Krohn Ferrari team participated in four of the ALMS races, collecting three Top-10 finishes, and a remarkable second-place finish at the internationally renowned 24 Hours of Le Mans race.

The No. 61 Krohn-Risi Ferrari adds a two-time Sebring winner to its driver line-up with sports car endurance legend Eric van de Poele. Van de Poele won in both 1995 and 1996, including finishing first- and third-place in the 1995 running in the popular Ferrari 333 SP. Eric, a four-time 24 Hours of Spa winner, three-time class winner at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, winner of Petit Le Mans and former Formula One driver, joined Krohn Racing at the beginning of the 2008 season. He also to co-drives with Tracy Krohn in the Krohn Racing Pontiac Lola in the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series. The Krohn Racing two-car team finished fourth and seventh in the prestigious 24 Hours of Daytona race in January. Additionally, van de Poele teams with Krohn and Jönsson for both Sebring and Le Mans.

The Risi-Krohn Ferrari team has high hopes as they come to Sebring ready to battle an intense class field. The sister Risi Competizione Ferrari 430 GT of Mika Salo, Jaime Melo and Gianmaria Bruni are poised to reprise their door handle-to-door handle fight to the finish with Porsche in search of a repeat of the ALMS GT2 Team and Driver Championships in 2008.

ERIC VAN DE POELE, Risi-Krohn Ferrari Driver:

You are a two-time winner at Sebring. It has a reputation for being one of the toughest races on the U.S. circuit, yet you keep coming back. What is it that makes the 12 Hours of Sebring race so special, so unique and so difficult?

“First of all, the layout of the track is such that you don't have much time to relax. It's quite bumpy, although much better than the past, but it is still very demanding. It is also a very narrow track and you can't make any mistakes. You must be very aware of traffic. A little mistake and you can be in the gravel or if you lose the car, you can be in the wall, because the wall is very close. All these things make for the fact that you have to have 12 hours of very disciplined driving. Every time I got to Sebring, everyone says it is an endurance race, but it is always like a sprint race for the 12 hours. That is why it makes for being the hardest race. It is very humid and often warm and sometimes rain, so it is really a difficult race. For me it is much more difficult, for example, than Le Mans. For 12 hours, you give all you can.

I believe no average drivers and teams can win at Sebring because it is very demanding mechanically, and it's quite high downforce and this track for prototypes. For me, it is a new experience this year in GT2 because I have to be aware of the prototype cars, which are quicker than us. This is an experience I have to get accustomed to and I must be very careful, but I like the challenge.”

What does it take to win Sebring?

“Sebring is so demanding for everything. I believe also it is physically the hardest. You need to be very fit and have a good staff around you. It could be very warm, so from a driver's point of view, it is very hard. It's always very hard mechanically. I think it is the best test for the teams before going to Le Mans. Sebring is usually the race that the good teams and the good factories decide to do before Le Mans. It is so hard to win a race there, but so fantastic!

I won with a Ferrari in 1995 – finished first and third – both with Team Scandia in the Ferrari 333 SP. Jeff Braun, our engineer on the Krohn Grand-Am Pontiac Lola was my engineer then. I had to radio to ask if I could pass my car. I didn't know if I could pass him or if I needed to stay behind. It was very strange. Also, on the podium, I remember I was with Michelle Alboreto on one car and with Fermin Velez and Andy Evans on the other. I was embarrassed. I didn't want to leave Michelle alone on the third step, but I wanted to be on the first step too. It was a funny situation. I have incredible memories at Sebring. I will never forget that. It was so hard with the Ferrari and on the old track.”

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