It’s likely that few people, even those in motorsport circles, would have been familiar with the name Jesse Krohn prior to this season. However, the 24 year old from the small Finnish town of Nurmijärvi is starting to turn heads on an international level, and is already plotting the route to his ultimate goal of driving in the DTM.
Krohn, the first winner of the BMW Junior Development Programme last year, is currently competing in the European Le Mans Series having made the switch from single seaters to GT cars fairly early in his career. Sharing the #53 BMW Team Marc VDS Z4 GTE with Henry Hassid and Andy Priaulx, the former Formula Renault champion is quickly elevating his reputation as a quick endurance driver. The team finished fourth in class at the season-opening 4 Hours of Silverstone, with GTE rookie Krohn setting the team’s fastest lap.
Despite being new to the BMW Z4 GTE Krohn is already finding his feet, and is relishing the opportunity of sharing the car with three time World Touring Car champion Priaulx, who lightly suggested at that his job as Marc VDS qualifying driver was being put under threat by his young team-mate’s impressive pace.
“The car is savage!” Krohn told TCF. “There aren’t many driver aids, no ABS and little traction. There’s a lot of power and it’s a beast to drive so I enjoy every moment I get in the car.”
“I’m very lucky to be in this car and to have a team-mate like Andy. Every moment I spend with him I learn more and more, listening to what he says in the debriefs. Working together with him is just priceless help and I make use of the priceless knowledge that he has, so I try to understand everything I can from him in order to learn as much as possible.”
Krohn’s car racing career began in 2006, with successful appearances in a multitude of regional single seater formulae facilitating his rise through the junior ranks.
A combination of factors prevented Krohn from living his Formula 1 dream a couple of years ago, but his career has prospered since then. Last year he was one of four young drivers to be selected for the BMW Motorsport Junior Programme, which he duly won after achieving success in the VLN driving a BMW M235i Racing Cup. With such high-ranking support providing him with a stable career base, Krohn is more than happy to continue treading the BMW path, and is now clear on where he wants this opportunity to take him.
“I’ve driven since I was five years old so I’m not new to racing but I’m new to the GT scene because I did a lot of single seaters before in Formula Renault and Formula Ford,” he said. “So I’m new here but hopefully quite soon more people will recognise my name. This is my dream, to race a car.”
“It’s a really amazing opportunity and I’m really grateful to BMW for giving me this chance and I will definitely make the most of it. It’s been hard work every step of the way because you’ve got to be one step ahead of the others. It’s a stressful environment but I like that. I’m at my best when there’s a bit of stress, so I’ve enjoyed every step of the BMW Motorsport Junior Programme and I’m now really enjoying my time with BMW Team Marc VDS.”
“But the ultimate goal for me is DTM. I have to be realistic about Formula 1 – that was the initial dream but now I really want to push to develop myself in order to be good enough to become a DTM driver. That’s where I want to be now, so everything before that is preparation.”
Krohn made the difficult decision to turn his back on Formula 1 at a relatively early stage in his career. As he explains, the financial demands of single seater racing soon overwhelm the young driver, but GT has provided him with a welcome alternative.
“A lot of paying drivers are coming into Formula 1, so it’s mainly a budget issue,” he said. “For me, I come from quite a small market area in Finland so it’s difficult to get big sponsors. So I definitely think that I made the shift to GT racing at the right time because it was no longer financially possible to carry on with Formula cars.”
“I had to make that hard decision at some point. I just couldn’t keep bringing money to the table so as a professional I do everything I can to make myself better in the car. You can’t keep paying for your race seats and worry about that, instead you need to concentrate on what’s ultimatelty important, which is your performance in the car.”
Krohn and BMW Team Marc VDS will continue their European Le Mans Series campaign at Imola on May 17.