In 2019 a new chapter begins for VLN regular Christian Krognes. On the back of a career-changing 2018 season in which the Norwegian won the Spa 24 Hours, Krognes is taking on the Intercontinental GT Challenge with Walkenhorst Motorsport, starting this weekend with the Bathurst 12 Hour.
Looking back on his first laps around Mount Panorama Circuit, Krognes is sufficiently impressed.
“The first thing I noticed is how narrow the track is,” Krognes says.
“I did a lap here with my rental car on Tuesday and the car just feels so small compared to the track. It’s incredible how the speed just narrows in the track, I was a bit surprised the first time. The walls are always close, and every time you have a little slip, a little moment, you just feel the walls coming towards you, attacking you. You have to be a bit careful and get used to that feeling and once you have that trust you can really go faster.”
As a trio of Bathurst debutants and Walkenhorst Motorsport only an aborted 2017 Bathurst 12 Hour to rely on for experience, Krognes and co-drivers Nick Catsburg and Mikkel Jensen spent Friday learning the track and edging closer to the fastest teams.
“I think we saw many positives,” the Nürburgring specialist continues.
“For BMW especially it was a good day with one car on P2 and we also did some good laps, I would say. Nicky, Mikkel and I are getting used to the car, getting used to the track. I think it’s a major challenge just to get here and be on pace from the start. We knew it would be a challenge, but we’ve come a long way with the track so far. It’s a long way ahead, but we’re all feeling pretty confident, so that’s a good start.
“It’s early days to know where we stand. I don’t know who were doing qualifying simulations already and who wasn’t. We’re just trying to learn the track, that was the main priority today. Especially Nicky is very experienced, a very good guy, and I know Mikkel from earlier. It’s been a good day to learn.
“I’m just looking forward to get going again and improve as the days go.”
The opening sessions were regularly interrupted by red flags due to accidents, but it didn’t deter Walkenhorst from making big steps forward on Friday.
“There were actually slightly less red flags than I thought there would be, but straight after the second lap of my first practice run there was a red flag. You never know when they come out, but I’m happy the team sort of managed to get us out early on. We have the first garage, so we’re always first in the queue. I think we got the most out of it.”
As the reigning Spa 24 Hour winner, the obvious question remains: Can Walkenhorst Motorsport repeat their Belgian success with a podium or even the win?
“With the record BMW has here at Bathurst, that would be an obvious goal for us. Even though we’re three new faces here at Bathurst, that is something we want to achieve, of course. We are not here to hang around; we’re here to be strong and fight for a podium.
“That’s the goal. If we can achieve it, I don’t know, but we’ll do our best.”