Full credits to TotalRacing.gr and Dimitri Bizas for conducting the interview with Thomas Krasonis and Tzanetos Poulymenakos in providing the English subtitles for the interview to make this article into a possibility.
Thomas Krasonis, Euro Series’ first ever Greek driver, is a 18-year old young talent that is making his debut this season after competing in Mini Challenge Italia last year. Krasonis, who competed for Alex Caffi Motorsport in the Elite 2 class, currently sits in 16th place in the championship with a 6th place finish in the chaotic first Elite 2 race at Brands Hatch being his best finish of his season so far.
On August 19, Greek racing website TotalRacing.gr posted a video in their YouTube channel in which Krasonis was interviewed by Dimitri Bizas. In the interview, Bizas interviewed Krasonis on several topics such as his personal life and his journey in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series.
Due to the length of the interview video, we’re going to split the interview articles into several parts, with today being the first part that focuses on two topics: Krasonis’ college aspirations and his transition from Mini Challenge Italia to the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series.
We can’t be more thankful for the crew at TotalRacing.gr for providing the English subtitles for the interview that made this article into a possibility.
Dimitri Bizas: “Good evening, Thomas!”
Thomas Krasonis: “Good evening!”
Bizas: “Thank you very much for having us in your house. After one year of racing in Italy and now Europe, what has changed about you as a driver?”
Krasonis: “First and foremost, we ended our tenure in the Mini Challenge series, which was a one-make series in Italy with the John Cooper Works cars, and this year I take part in the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series, which is a European-wide championship, visiting top-class European circuits, like Hockenheim and Brands Hatch.
On a more personal note, I just graduated from high school. I made it, after a lot of effort! And now, I go abroad to study sports management in The Netherlands and the city of Groningen.”
Bizas: “You want to go, didn’t you?”
Krasonis: “Yes, of course, I want to study abroad.”
Bizas: “You seem to love being abroad.”
Krasonis: “I am used to it now. Since 2010, I travel abroad for all my racing activity, from the karting days in the WSK and now in the EuroNASCAR series. That means that it’s like natural to me.”
Bizas: “Do you intend to live abroad?”
Krasonis: “For the time being, I want to go abroad. I don’t know what it’s going to be like, but I want to live there. We shall see. Of course, my priority is to take the degree and then we shall see, depending on how things are going to be. Racing is also a part of all this process.”
Bizas: “Do you want to continue racing?”
Krasonis: “Yes. I will do it as long as I can.”
Bizas: “Do you think that it will be easier now for you to race?”
Krasonis: “The costs will certainly fall now, because I can go by train to circuits in German and Italy. I can go to Hockenheim by train, for instance.”
Bizas: (talking about Mini Challenge Italia) “You have raced in Italy in Italian circuits, with one exception when we raced in France. And you had Italian drivers as your opponents, I presume.”
Krasonis: “We had a lot of drivers from other countries, but it was a series based in Italy.”
Bizas: “You made the transition from Italy to racing in various places in Europe, in a series that its roots are deeply American. What’s the difference between these two series in terms of racing? And how do you have to adapt to that?”
Krasonis: “There are no similarities between the cars. The Mini Cooper is an FWD car, with 230 HP under its hood. It has loads of assists, like ABS and others. The NASCAR one is equipped with a hydraulic steering wheel, but there’s not much more than that. It’s pure. It has a roll cage, an engine, and that’s about it.
It’s much more wild. It’s much more old-school, more than anything I’ve ever driven. It’s really powerful. It has a 5,000 cc, 450 HP engine, it’s RWD, and it has a 4-speed gearbox. It’s a DOHC gearbox, which means that first gear is ending in around 120 km/h.
Bizas: “Your head is being pushed back to your seat!”
Krasonis: “True, especially if you have grip and you’re exiting a long corner.”
Bizas: “It’s a whole new world.”
Krasonis: “It really is. There’s a big difference in speed.”
Bizas: “Do you feel the difference from how you approach the races, because we were saying off-the-record that you do a lot of practice. Is that something that you didn’t do during your Mini Challenge year?”
Krasonis: “In the Mini Challenge, there were two Free Practice sessions and we had the opportunity to learn the track. I couldn’t practice outside of the race weekend, so I did the two Free Practice sessions on Friday, and then qualifying on Saturday, and two races, one on Saturday and one on Sunday.
In EuroNASCAR, it’s the same format, but the Free Practice sessions last longer and I need that time. I still don’t have the commodity of practicing outside the race weekends. So, the more time I spend on the track, the better for me.”
Bizas: “Going back to the Saxo days [in 2016-2017] and with no intention to compare the cars, do you personally believe you have taken the right choices moving up the ranks? Starting from something less powerful, then moving to a car a bit more powerful, and now racing with that little ‘beast’.”
Krasonis: “I believe that we couldn’t have made the best decision. It’s been really good, thank God and NASCAR is the next step that needed to be done for me as a driver to gain experience with a more difficult car and for my resume, for my reputation. It’s very positive for my CV to have raced in this series.”
Bizas: “You do race with Jacques Villeneuve, after all.”
Krasonis: “Yes, and my opponents in the Elite 2 class, the ‘rookies’, are all experienced. For example, [Lasse] Sørensen, is a TCR and Formula 4 champion, but its his first year in the championship and they’re not allowed in the Elite 1 class*. Each and every one of them is a good driver and [Giorgio] Maggi – I don’t know how to pronounce it! – he’s a very good driver.
Every one of them comes from F4 series or various GT championships. They’re experienced. There’s no bad driver in the series. It’s just that [the drivers] in Elite 1 are the more experienced guys with that category. It’s divided into the Elite 1 class and the Elite 2 class, in which I take part.”
More on this to follow in the next few days…
* Drivers can debut in the Elite 1 class of the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series if the driver so desires. For example, Ander Vilariño, Alon Day, and Anthony Kumpen, all former Elite 1 champions, made their series debuts in the Elite 1 class, and 4 drivers this season – Jacques Villeneuve, Sebastiaan Bleekemolen, Henri Tuomaala, and Ellen Lohr – made their debuts in the Elite 1 class as well.
Disclaimer: Unless noted, all photos used in this article are courtesy of Thomas Krasonis.