Thursday, 19 April 2012 18:56

Stefan Johansson Talks The Indy Grand Prix of Alabama, Scott Dixon, and His New Watch Collaboration With Alex Lynn Featured

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JT – The Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama at Barber Motorsports Park went fairly well for Scott Dixon with a second-place finish. A pit-stop error seems to have cost him the win but the points he garnered were still good.

SJ – Unfortunately, the last two pit stops weren’t very good. In fairness though, they (Target Chip Ganassi Racing) weren’t the only ones to make a mistake. Many teams had the same problem. If I understand it correctly, it has something to do with the wheel hubs on the new cars (DW12s). They have more threads than the hubs the previous car had. The tire changers are so used to just using the wheel guns for a short burst and then being able to pull a wheel off.  But with the new hubs, the wheel nut is still spinning on the wheel when they pull the gun off sometimes. Then the nut flies off the wheel wherever it decides to go and they have to retrieve it. Pretty much all the teams have experienced it on one stop or another. In this case it was the difference between first and second.

JT – The GP of Alabama was an enjoyable race however and I think many fans viewed it as one of the best road course races in recent years. Do you agree? 

SJ – Absolutely, I think it was a good race. Both St Petersburg and Barber had some good racing. I think once you start to get used to the way the new cars look you can begin to see that they can provide good racing. The one thing that does worry me slightly is that almost every race in Indycar seems to come down to strategy nowadays, so there is always an element of gambling or just being in the right place at the right time when the track goes yellow.

JT – The F1 Grand Prix of China should be an interesting one for the current points leader, Fernando Alonso and teammate Felipe Massa. What are your thoughts?

SJ – I don’t really think Ferrari will have a lot of performance. The gap between China and the race in Malaysian (the GP of Malaysia) is pretty short and it’s a fly-away race so there’s no real development for the car. I don’t think there will be a lot of change in their performance in terms of speed.

You won’t see real big changes for the teams until they start racing in Europe again. That’s typically what happens every year. The first three or four races are fly-away races and they have basically the same car they had at the first race.

JT – There was a very defensive press release issued by Group Lotus recently in an apparent effort to refute what they claim are malicious and false rumors. It raised a lot of eyebrows. What did you think of it?

SJ – Yes, I read it on the Autosport website and I found it to be the most bizarre press release I think I’ve ever seen. Why would anyone put out something like that, it almost looked sophomoric in the way it responded tit for tat to some claims that supposedly some other individual had made. I don’t see any benefit to it. It’s a very strange thing to do.

But maybe it’s not entirely surprising given their apparent shotgun approach to racing. I don’t know how many Lotus-branded cars there are now in racing ranging from F1, Indycar and Sportscars, all carrying a livery that was made famous by one of their previous sponsors... I’m certainly not a branding expert by any means, but I am very confused…

JT – The entry for the first Blancpain Endurance Series race of the year at Monza was pretty impressive – 57 cars, including a Ferrari 458 GT3 for multiple MotoGP champion Valentino Rossi. Again, it seems that the GT3 formula is working well worldwide. 

SJ – Yeah, that’s very, very impressive. I think they’ve finally hit on a really good formula with the variety of cars, the mixture of professional and amateur drivers racing together and a relatively affordable formula. It’s affordable enough that you can run with either sponsorship or paying drivers or a combination of both.

JT – You’ve just released the custom Alex Lynn Mark VIIIF chronograph, the first in a limited edition of 10 of these special timepieces. In addition, you’re sponsoring Alex’s effort in British Formula 3. How did this come about?

SJ – I’ve known Alex’s family for a while and I’ve been following him for the last three years. He’s a very talented driver and I thought this would be a nice way to get involved in some sponsorship, and lend my support and offer some advice to an up and coming driver that I genuinely believe in. Right now we’re doing just ten pieces of the watch but there may be more and different versions in the future. 

 

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