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) with a title win. They claimed the GTLM titles in the Michelin Endurance Cup, a competition representing the four endurance races held in the IMSA. In an interview, Edwards and Krohn speak about the special challenges of endurance races, the perfect team effort as key to success and their personal season highlights including winning the 24 Hours of Daytona (USA).
The Daytona win was the start of a streak of success for Edwards and Krohn in the #24 MOTUL BMW M8 GTE. They also finished the other three endurance races of the season on the podium. These have been, after Daytona, the six-hour race and the ten-hour ‘Petit Le Mans’ at Road Atlanta (USA) and the season finale 12 Hours of Sebring (USA). For the Michelin Endurance Cup, points are awarded in specific intervals throughout the race.
In a 24-hour race, for example, these ‘check points’ come after six, 12, 18 and 24 hours; in a six-hour race, it’s after three and six hours. Those cars who are leading the race at these ‘check points’ collect points for the drivers’, teams’ and manufacturers’ standings in the Michelin Endurance Cup. In the 2020 season, not only the driver’s title went to Krohn and Edwards, but BMW Team RLL won the team classification and BMW was the best manufacturer.
John, Jesse, congratulations on winning the title in the Michelin Endurance Cup. What does this title mean to you?
John Edwards: “I think it’s a great way to end the season, closing out with a championship. For us, the Michelin Endurance Cup was a big focus, especially after winning the first race of the year, the 24 Hours of Daytona. From then on it was an additional part of our strategy in endurance races to target to be leading at the check points in order to collect the points for the Endurance Cup. I think it’s a testament to the job the team can do when you have 24 hours, 12 hours, ten hours of racing. It’s a testament to how the team is functioning as a whole and so I’m really proud to be a part of it.”
Jesse Krohn: “I am also super proud that we were able to win this endurance title because in races, the longer they go, the more difficult it gets. When you have to survive for ten, 12, 24 hours that is, like John said, really a testament to the team’s ability in endurance races and doing a great job over a long distance. It’s really a great achievement for the whole team that we were able to win it.”
You have been on the podium in all four endurance races of the season. What are the keys to success in endurance racing compared to shorter 2 hour 40 races?
Krohn: “It’s a different mentality approaching the longer races because you know you got to be there at the end and there is a lot of strategy involved getting in that position that gives you the chance to win or to finish on the podium. So it’s a completely different approach to the sprint races where you got to qualify well and it’s even more taking risks throughout the race. You don’t have to think about the long game so much as in endurance races. It’s different and this year we really did it well.”
Edwards: “I think it’s really challenging. Especially in IMSA with the different classes and then how close we are especially to the GTD cars because, as Jesse said, you have to be there in the end but as soon as you back off in an IMSA race you are going to lose a lot of time due to passing traffic and so on.
At places like Sebring and Road Atlanta actually, which have finishing the race at night, it’s quite challenging to determine how much risk you’ll take because you need to be there at the end but when you pull back too much then GTD cars won’t let you by and prototypes will take advantage of you. You have to find that balance of quite a bit of aggression and still managing to keep the car together.