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 17-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 second part that focuses on how Krasonis was signed to drive for Alex Caffi Motorsport in the 2019 season and the major selling points of the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series to racing fans around the world.
For the first part of this series of articles where we focused on Krasonis’ college aspirations and his transition from Mini Challenge Italia to the NASCAR Whelen Euro Series, you can check it out via the link here.
As for the second part where we focused on how Alex Caffi Motorsport signed Krasonis and the Euro Series’ primary selling points to racing fans, you can check it out via the link here.
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: “So, your goal this year is to finish in the Top 10.”
Thomas Krasonis: “Yes, somewhere in the Top 10.”
Bizas: “When you first started in this series, the first test was held back in January?”
Krasonis: “Uhm, yeah, something like that. The championship started in April and the test was held like a month before that.”
Bizas: “So, you drove the car for the first time, and you decide that you’re going to make a run for it. The first race, how was it – in the simplest of words – tell us how it felt. You saw 20 other drivers…”
Krasonis: “Not just 20. It’s 36* drivers taking part in my class.”
Bizas: “Oh, that’s true. How was that experience?”
Krasonis: “I was used on the Mini Cooper days with just 22 cars in the track, and the cars were not that powerful. The first thing that gets your attention and the audience’s attention is the sound the car makes. When I was in the pit box, all the engines were fired up at the same time and it was resounding. That stresses you out a bit. You want to see what it’s going to be like.
I hadn’t raced in anything like that, and with that kind of competition, because I knew that there are huge names there, I knew what I would be against with. At first, I was a bit nervous in the Free Practice sessions, but the good thing is that I’m on my element on the fast tracks like the one we raced in Valencia, so I liked that because I could go fast from the beginning.
In the race, the difficult part on this series is the start and that’s because they try to keep it as American-styled as possible, so that means the cars have no margin between them, it’s like door-to-door and bumpers touching. There’s no space to move and you’re not allowed to make a move even after the lights go out, you have to pass the start/finish line to make a move on your opponent.
So, for a moment, you do accelerate, but you don’t have any room whatsoever. You can’t see what’s going on in front of you since your visibility is hampered because of the way the car is from the inside.”
Bizas: “And how do you feel at the end of the race, without the assistance of a power steering?”
Krasonis: “It’s really tiring. So tiring.”
Bizas: “You need to do physiotherapy, right?”
Krasonis: “Yeah, our team has a physiotherapist who helps us before the race and afterwards, so as to avoid any strain and relieve the pain!”
Bizas: “But that’s a new experience for you. You get to see how things are getting done on a higher level.”
Krasonis: “Yes, of course. It has nothing in common with Mini Challenge even though it was a competitive series with one-make cars and good drivers. They’re not in the same level as the ones in [American] NASCAR, but they were still competitive.
I was fighting in the Top 5, and now I’m in the Top 10. That’s my ball park, I have finished 6th in Brands Hatch and for the moment, I can’t fight in the Top 5. Just to do my self-criticism, I’m not ready yet. I still learn, I gain experience just to see how the competition is like.”
Bizas: “You race for a long time now in various series’ and I’m sure this couldn’t be the case without the support and help from others. Who are those people that helped you reach that level now?”
Krasonis: “For sure my father helps me. He has put a lot of effort so I can be in a position to race for so many years especially in the NASCAR [Whelen Euro] Series. Of course, the ‘4Wheels’ magazine is standing by me for a long time now, from the Saxo years. In addition, there are some friends of my father who want to help me on a personal level and they believe in me and that’s a big reason as to how I managed to be in this position today.
Of course, the team I race for in the EuroNASCAR series, Alex Caffi Motorsport, and the series promoter [Jerome Galpin] believe in me and want me to be in this championship. They’ve seen something in me and they helped me, too.”
Bizas: “There are a lot of people helping you because, we have said in the past motorsport is an expensive sport.”
Krasonis: “It is very expensive, and the more you come up the ladder, the more expensive it gets. A demanding championship is really demanding on the financial side, too because you need more training and practicing in order to be on a competitive level.
At the moment, I can’t afford to practice. There are many factors playing their part. When you finish karting, you decide to race in single seaters or in a car championship, costs are much higher. Even if you don’t race in the top tier championships, the difference is huge.
Even between WSK and a Formula 4 series, which is regarded as the lowest tier in single seaters, it’s double the cost of a year in WSK. Even though it’s a world championship with prestige, F4 has double the cost to race. Even the Mini Challenge series was much more expensive than the WSK.”
Bizas: “What about next year? Do you have a plan?”
Krasonis: “Yes. At first, we want to finish this year’s championship. Two race [weeks] remain in Hockenheim and in Zolder, and next year I will try to participate in the whole 2020 championship, but I want to be in contention for the title. I want to be at least in the Top 5. I want to be in the Top 5 of the Elite 2 class.
I could move up to the Elite 1 class, but I won’t be able to be in the title contention. I will fight in the Top 10, between the 10th and the 15th place again. It will be more difficult, I can’t do something different every single year because I have to carry with me some experience.”
Bizas: “If you stay in the Elite 2 class, are you going to fight for the championship?”
Krasonis: “I can’t tell that, because many drivers will stay in the same class with eyes on the prize. But, I believe that I will be fighting in the Top 5. I think that I will be higher in the standings, I will surely be in the Top 10. That’s where I think I will be, in the Top 5.”
* Slight overestimation by Krasonis here, as 29 drivers took part in the Elite 2 race at the season opening races at Valencia.
Disclaimer: Unless noted, all photos used in this article are courtesy of NASCAR Whelen Euro Series / Stephane Azemard.