MIL OSI Translation. Region: Germany / Deutschland –
Source: BMW Group Munich. Together with BMW and BMW Team RLL, John Edwards (USA) and Jesse Krohn (FIN) crowned their 2020 season in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship (IMSA series) with a title win. They secured the GTLM title in the Michelin Endurance Cup, which includes the four IMSA endurance races. In an interview, Edwards and Krohn talk about the special challenges on the long distance, the perfect team performance as the key to success and their personal highlights of the season, including their victory at the 24 Hours of Daytona. The Daytona victory was the start of a series of successes for Edwards and Krohn in the # 24 MOTUL BMW M8 GTE. They also finished on the podium in all three of the other endurance races of the season. After Daytona, these were the six-hour race and the ten-hour “Petit Le Mans” at Road Atlanta (USA) as well as the season finale, the Twelve Hours of Sebring (USA). For the Michelin Endurance Cup, points are awarded at certain intervals during the races. In a 24-hour race, for example, these “check points” come after six, twelve, 18 and 24 hours, in a 6-hour race after three and six hours. The leading vehicles at this point in time collect points for the driver, team and manufacturer standings of the Michelin Endurance Cup. In the 2020 season, not only did Krohn and Edwards win the drivers ‘title, but BMW Team RLL also won the drivers’ championship, and BMW was the best manufacturer.
John, Jesse, congratulations on winning the Michelin Endurance Cup. What does this title mean to you?
John Edwards: “I think it’s great to end the season with a title. For us, the Michelin Endurance Cup was very much in focus, especially after we won the first race of the year, the Daytona 24 Hours. After that, an additional part of our strategy in the endurance races was to be in the lead at the respective ‘Check Points’ so that we could get the extra points for the Endurance Cup. We implemented this very well. I think it shows what a team can do when you race for 24, twelve or ten hours. It’s an endorsement of how well the team works as a whole, and I’m really proud to be a part of it. “
Jesse Krohn: “I am also very proud that we won this endurance title. Because the longer a race lasts, the more difficult it becomes. If you can get through ten, twelve or 24 hours, as John said, that is a real testament to the team’s ability in endurance races and the fact that they do a great job over the long distances. It is really a great achievement by the whole team that we have won this title. “
You finished on the podium in all four endurance races of the season. What are the keys to success in long distance races compared to the shorter races that last two hours and 40 minutes? Krohn: “You mentally approach the longer races differently because you know that you have to be at the front in the end. And strategy plays a huge role when it comes to putting you in a position to have a chance of victory or a podium finish in the end. So it’s a completely different approach than sprint races, where you have to qualify well and risk even more during the race. You don’t have to think as long-term as in endurance races. It’s different, and we’ve done it very well this year. “
Edwards: “It’s a real challenge. Especially in the IMSA with the different classes and because we are so close to the GTD vehicles. Because, as Jesse said, in the end you have to be at the front. But as soon as you slow down a bit in an IMSA race, you lose a lot of time, for example when you have to overtake in traffic. On tracks like Sebring or Road Atlanta, where the races end at night, it is quite difficult to estimate how much risk you are taking. Because you have to get through to the end, but if you slow down too much, the GTD cars won’t let you past and the prototypes will use you to their advantage. You have to find the right balance between the right amount of aggression and the necessary caution to leave the car whole. But it’s also important to emphasize how many pit stops the team makes during an endurance race, and the strategy is also constantly changing. At Daytona we had a fast car, which we were able to play to especially towards the end of the race when the track temperature rose. But more importantly, we had a perfect strategy. That put us in an excellent starting position and for me the focus is on the team’s performance, even more so than in sprint races.
Team performance – what makes BMW Team RLL so strong in this regard?
Krohn: “It’s a special team, that’s for sure. The team spirit and the way everyone works together is outstanding. And everyone gets on really well with each other. There is a very open atmosphere and it is clear that everyone has their own special task and that everyone does their job very well. And you know that you can always rely on the other. I think that really takes the team to another level and made us as successful as we were. “
Edwards: “I agree with Jesse. And it is also important to see that in addition to this title win and the podium series of the # 24 in all endurance races, there is also the victory of the # 25 in the 6-hour race in Road Atlanta and that we as a team have won Daytona two years in a row . This year everything went well for us in # 24, but that only underlines how strong the team has been over the past two years. And then there are the people you work with, especially all the BMW drivers who are involved. It doesn’t matter who they send to the races because everyone is so strong. We had Philipp Eng on our car and this year there were of course Augusto Farfus and Chaz Mostert who did an outstanding job. And I am very proud to be part of this program. “
Her personal highlight of the season was undoubtedly winning the Daytona 24 Hours in January. Some time has passed since then, what do you remember especially when you think about this success?
Edwards: “That’s right! In fact, I remember a moment in the middle of the race, it must have been around midnight or one in the morning. I had just returned from my triple stint that night and was sitting in the pits with Philipp Eng, who drove the # 25 sister car. I think you were with us, Jesse, in the car, overtaking, working your way in the field, and we had good pace. Philipp looked at me, nudged my knee and said: ‘You will win this race.’ I looked back and thought to myself: ‘The race will be far too long for such a conversation.’ I remember that moment very well because he was completely convinced that we were going to win while I just wanted to focus on the things that we could control at the time. But of course the best moment was when we saw Jesse crossing the finish line. Because in the last two hours it was quite turbulent. Our strategy continued to work very well and we implemented it perfectly. But inside, I wasn’t sure how it would turn out until we saw it. In addition, a prototype driver stalled his car during one of the last pit stops and blocked Jesse as he entered the pit lane. I thought that would be the end of the race for us. I thought that would put us back in third place and cost us the win. So it was very emotional during the race and I remember the feeling when Jesse crossed the finish line and we knew we had finally made it. Chaz Mostert, Augusto Farfus and I hugged each other and jumped up and down the pit wall. It was so much joy, but above all relief, because the tension was so great up to that moment. That was the greatest moment for me, together with my teammates on the pit wall, when we saw Jesse cross the finish line. “
Jesse, the greatest moment for you was surely when you crossed the finish line in the # 24 MOTUL BMW M8 GTE?
Krohn: “Yes, 100 percent. Only last weekend in Sebring I talked about how long our Daytona victory was on the one hand, but how present it is still in our memories. It’s like we won yesterday. Because it was such a special race, a special moment for me and for the team. When I think about crossing the finish line: I much prefer to be in the car for the last hour, can do the job and don’t have to be excited about the pit wall without being able to do anything. It was also something special for me that the team put their trust in me and sat me in the car to bring home the win. When I crossed the finish line, I just tried to soak in that feeling. I knew how special it was, and when I slowly drove around the track in the inlap, I felt the moment and it was very special. I knew that there was a very happy team waiting for me in the pits. “
After Daytona, you and the team wanted to take the momentum with you into the next races, but due to the Covid-19 pandemic, racing was at a standstill for several months. How difficult was that for you as a driver and BMW Team RLL?
Edwards: “I think it’s been a difficult year for everyone, whether you are into motorsport or not. We racing drivers stayed at home and drove a lot in our simulators. And for us in # 24 it was probably even easier than for most of the others, because we went into the break with a great result. We were able to enjoy and celebrate our success a little longer than planned, because there was a long time between the races. I think it would have been a lot worse to have had a bad race at Daytona and then had to go into lockdown. Because when you have a bad race, you want to get back on the racetrack immediately and make up for it. We came home and proudly walked around the house with our Rolex watches while we waited for the next race (laughs). “
Krohn: “John put it well. We were very fortunate that we had the win and went into lockdown with a good result. But of course the time wasn’t ideal for anyone. We would have liked to have carried on straight away, and I still hope that sooner rather than later things will return to normal. “
What were your other highlights after the season continued?
Edwards: “The fact that we’ve been on the podium in every endurance race. That was really something special. In addition, we were very often in the lead during the races at the ‘Check Points’ for the Michelin Endurance Cup. We have achieved several podiums outside of the endurance races, but I am mainly looking back on the entire endurance season. In the 6-hour race at Road Atlanta we had good pace and although we ‘only’ finished third, it was a very tight and intense race. The ‘Petit Le Mans’ was a bitter-sweet race for us because we won the Endurance Cup, but we finished third. But we had led the race until Augusto was pushed off the track by a prototype. For me, the ‘Petit Le Mans’ was a highlight in a certain way, although we weren’t lucky enough to end it with a win. But all three drivers delivered a strong race, as did the entire team, and the car’s performance was great. Unfortunately, it was just unfortunate that it ended up third instead of winning. But for me this is a great example of a race that we implemented almost perfectly. “
Krohn: “I agree with John, the endurance championship was definitely a highlight. But that also applies to the entire season. Because we knew we had a package with which we could fight for victory week after week. It was just great to travel to all the races and know that if we do it well, we can fight for wins and podium places. Overall, we’ve been more consistently competitive this year, and we’ve made a big step from last year to this one that has enabled us to win. We were always at the front and did a great job overall. “
EDITOR’S NOTE: This article is a translation. Apologies should the grammar and / or sentence structure not be perfect.