Archive for “January, 2015”

CORE’s Daytona Dominance Ends in Heartbreak

CORE autosport appeared to be en route to its second-consecutive Rolex 24 at Daytona win, but after leading 80 percent of the 24-hour TUDOR United SportsCar race, contact sent the No. 54 Composite Resources/Flex Box ORECA FLM09 into the wall with only 20 minutes remaining. Luckily, the team still managed to salvage a podium finish and a Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup win.

Starting second on the Prototype Challenge grid, Colin Braun took over the class lead after only four laps. He held the lead until the team cycled through pit stops and driver changes for Jon Bennett and James Gué. Just as the sun was setting on Daytona International Speedway, Gué reclaimed the PC lead. The No. 54 held onto the class lead into the evening with Mark Wilkins behind the wheel.

A flat tire near the eight-hour mark dropped CORE to third, but only an hour later, Braun had the car back at the front of the PC field and proceeded to build a lead of three laps. The No. 54 continued to lead through the overnight hours and into sunrise on Sunday as the team cycled through the driver rotation.

During the morning hours, CORE held a steady one-lap lead over the second place No. 52 PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports car, but with one hour to go, driver Tom Kimber-Smith began to reel in Braun.

The gap was down to 47-seconds when Braun attempted a pass on a slower Daytona Prototype. The car made an erratic move, knocking the No. 54 into the grass. Braun was able to gather himself up and resume, unaware that the incident had damaged the rear suspension. As he entered the braking zone for the Bus Stop, the back of the car snapped sideways and sent Braun hard into the wall. In the process a suspension piece punctured the oil tank, which resulted in a fire. Braun was able to exit the car safely, but CORE’s race ended 20 minutes before the checkered flag.

Thankfully, the lead PC cars’ ability to gap the field and the rate of attrition enabled the No. 54 to officially finish third despite not seeing the checkered flag. Additionally, for leading at the six-, 12- and 18-hour marks, CORE autosport and its drivers won the first round of the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup, a title which they won in 2014.

Next up on the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship schedule is the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring in Sebring, Florida. CORE autosport is the defending PC winner at Sebring.

If you missed the Rolex 24 at Daytona, the race will be posted in its entirety on IMSA.com by Tuesday, Jan. 27

COLIN BRAUN
15-CORE-CB-Headshot“Everybody did a really great job. We were struggling with the straight-line speed of the car, but we were still managing the gap. With 20 minutes to go or so, I made a pretty routine pass around the outside of a really slow DP car in Turn 5. I think he just missed his brake marker and ran into the right rear of me pretty hard. It was hard enough to spin me out and subsequently, I think, break the right rear suspension, unbeknownst to me. Finally, I got it back going on track and I thought it was going to be ok. I went through the bus stop and I think the suspension just folded up. I ended up hitting the wall pretty hard, bringing our day to an abrupt end.

 

“There were lots of cars going by pretty fast, so I certainly didn’t want to risk getting out and being hit by one of them. I didn’t know if I had spilt oil behind me or if I had a bunch of parts behind me, so I certainly wasn’t going to get out of the car until the last minute. I hit the fire bottle and just waited for the safety cars to get there so I knew I’d be ok and not get hit.

“I’m gutted for everybody. We were in a position to win the race and had that guy used better judgment, I think we would’ve won the race. It’s one thing when you make a bold move and get on the bad side of it, but it’s another thing when I make a routine move that I’ve made a hundred times in a race and that happens.”

15-CORE-JB-HeadshotJON BENNETT
“With the events of today, it’s easy to focus on the last 20 minutes of the race. But quite honestly, the first 23 hours and 40 minutes were pretty amazing. After a great performance last year, we led this race essentially from the drop of the green flag right until the very end. Unfortunately, stuff like this happens when you’re in the business of risk management. We take chances once or twice a lap, sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn’t. It’s just a fact of racing.

 

“I’m proud of the team effort from all the drivers – James, Mark, Colin and myself – and the team. We had an incredibly well built and bulletproof car.  We led at the 6-hour mark, 12-hour mark, 18-hour mark and we would’ve led at the 24-hour mark as well. But it just wasn’t meant to be. The most important thing is Colin is fine, the car will heal itself and we’ll be back at Sebring.”

15-CORE-MW-HeadshotMARK WILKINS
“I can’t say enough about the CORE autosport team. I think they are the best in the business. They gave us a great racecar. The setup was spot-on. We pushed hard all race, but we were smart and stayed out of trouble. It’s a tough one. There’s a reason why it feels so good to win one of these; it’s because they are really hard to win. All in all, the team performed excellent. Everyone did a great job in and out of the car. For that, it was awesome to be a part of the team for this event.”

 

15-CORE-JG-HeadshotJAMES GUÉ
“Overall, CORE again showed they are the dominant team in this class. I think we led the majority of the race, and I felt very comfortable in the car. We had a great setup and were in really good shape. The end was unfortunate, the way it finished. While it’s always good to be on the podium, it wasn’t necessarily representative of the effort the whole team put in. Overall, it’s fantastic to be back with CORE. Everyone is so welcoming, I feel like I’m home.”

 

 

CORE Starts Rolex 24 from PC Front Row

DAYTONA, Fla. (Jan. 22, 2015) – CORE autosport will defend its Rolex 24 at Daytona crown from the front row of the Prototype Challenge grid. Colin Braun narrowly missed pole position, qualifying second.

CORE’s ‘drive for five’ PC Championships begins this weekend at Daytona International Speedway where the 2015 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship is kicking off. Last year, CORE’s victory at Daytona was the start of a remarkable season that culminated in CORE’s fourth PC Team Championship, the PC Driver Championship for Jon Bennett and Colin Braun and the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup titles for both team and drivers.

Braun is the defending polesitter for the PC class at Daytona. It looked as though he was en route to two in-a-row today, until Johnny Mowlem and the No. 16 BAR1 Motorsports car began to exchange provision pole times with Braun. On his final flyer, Mowlem claimed the top spot, putting the No. 54 CORE autosport/Flex Box ORECA FLM09 second on the PC grid with a lap of 1:42.498 (125.037 mph). Braun’s 2014 Daytona qualifying lap record of 1:41.777 still stands.

New IMSA regulations require the qualifying driver start the car in the race, so Braun will take the green flag in Saturday’s grueling Rolex 24 at Daytona. He will share the car with the same roster of drivers that won last year’s race: Jon Bennett, James Gué and Mark Wilkins. The green flag waves at 2:10p.m. ET on Saturday, Jan. 24.

The Rolex 24 will be broadcast live on FOX from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. ET on Jan. 24. From 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., FOX Sports 2 will take over and then hand off coverage to FOX Sports 1 from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. The overnight shift, 10 p.m. – 7 a.m. will be streamed on IMSA.com, with FOX Sports 1 taking viewers from 7 a.m. to the checkered flag.

Live scoring and in-car cameras are available throughout the race at IMSA.com.

15-CORE-CB-Headshot“Qualifying wasn’t too bad, and we were P1 most of the session. I think I just waited too long to get us a gap and we ended up doing one less lap than everyone else. These Continental Tires seem to get better and better as you run. Of course, it would have been nice to be on the pole, but I think we have a really good racecar. That’s certainly what we’ve been focusing more on than just raw speed, so we’re pretty happy.

“The key to the race on Saturday is to stay out of trouble, make good decisions in traffic and make sure we’re there at the end. So much can happen in the first 20 hours of the race. If we can stay in it and stay close, we’ll be fine.”
-Colin Braun

CORE Seeks Repeat Rolex 24 Victory

The TUDOR United SportsCar Championship will officially begin this week at Daytona International Speedway, where Round One, the grueling Rolex 24 at Daytona, will go green on Saturday, Jan. 24.

CORE autosport is the defending Prototype Challenge category race winner at Daytona. The No. 54 Composite Resources/Flex-Box ORECA FLM09 crossed the finish line one lap ahead of its nearest competitor and in ninth-place overall. It marked the start of championship season number four for CORE, who would also go on to collect the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup in the PC category.

The driver and crew lineup from last year’s race-winning effort returns in 2015 to attempt a repeat. Jon Bennett, Colin Braun, James Gue and Mark Wilkins will share driving duties. At Daytona, Bennett and Braun will begin their quest to defend their 2014 PC Drivers’ Championship.

 

NOTEWORTHY

  • Team owner/driver Jon Bennett is nominated for the Rolex Bob Snodgrass Award of Excellence, given to a team owner who exemplifies integrity and passion for the sport.
  • Colin Braun was the 2014 Rolex 24 PC Polesitter with a lap of 1:41.777.
  • Braun was the quickest PC driver in Daytona testing this month, fast lap of 1:41.769.
  • Bennett, Braun and Wilkins will visit Camp Boggy Creek, an official IMSA Charity, on Wednesday.
  • Braun’s brother Travis is currently a finalist in the Doritos Crash the Super Bowl contest. His ad and voting can be found here.

 

 

15-CORE-JB-Headshot“CORE autosport had a productive test at this year’s Roar Before the 24. We were impressed with the new power in our less-restricted Chevy motors. We are hoping to see regulations that improve our top speed on the oval to help separate the classes. We spent most of the Roar experimenting and not concentrating on outright lap time. Watching Colin at the top of the timesheet for several sessions was a bonus for our team.

 

“Starting the season with a 24-hour race can be stressful. There is a lot of effort that goes into a 24-hour race. An extremely busy December pays dividends in January (usually). Compared to last year, CORE autosport now has a successful template to work from. Last year, CORE was preparing for our first 24-hour race ever and building a full-on factory program with our partner Porsche North America.

 

“I am very proud to have our motorsports company recognized with the nomination for the Bob Snodgrass Award of Excellence. Every member of CORE has performed with excellence and teamwork beginning the day we opened our doors. I am thrilled with the success we have achieved together and it would be an honor to accept this prestigious award for my teammates.”
– Jon Bennett

 

 

 

15-CORE-CB-Headshot“After last year, we certainly know what it takes to win. It’s nice to be doing it again with the same group of people. I think it gives you a little bit of comfort knowing that we already did it and now we just need to do it again. Being the type of organization that we are, I don’t think we get caught up in the hype or pressure. We’re a group of guys that want to win everything we compete in, so I think we’re feeling the same way about it we did last year. If anything, we put the pressure on ourselves to do a good job.

 

“As with all these events, it’s not just about ‘saving the race car.’ Obviously, we’ve got to be smart and make good decisions in traffic, but by no means are we pacing ourselves or taking it easy or driving at 95 percent. We’re going as hard as we can the whole event. Goal number one is to get to the end of the race, but other than that it’s a full on sprint race.

 

“I think my favorite time to drive is the middle of the night. There’s not as much going on, traffic’s thinned out and everyone’s just doing their thing. For the most part everyone is making smart choices. It’s a lot of fun because it has a good rhythm and flow to it.

 

“With IMSA’s rule package we have a very unique rule set compared to what a lot of the other classes have. It is tremendously difficult to pass the GTLM cars with their straight-line speed, but also frustrating to deal with the GTD cars because we are so much faster than them, but we can’t pass them on the banking at all. It’s a little bit of a head scratcher. It’s going to make for a long event, but that’s something that will be the same for everybody.”
– Colin Braun

 

 

 

15-CORE-JG-Headshot“The Roar test was very productive; everything went to plan and we were able to accomplish everything on our list. We even were able to do a little bit of running in the rain. All in all, I was very happy with the test and it felt like we just picked up where we left off last year. As usual (engineer) Tom [Brown], (crew chief) Eric [Van Bibber] and all the guys at the shop gave us a great car.

 

“I think the hardest part of the 24-hour race is the mental aspect and being able to adapt very quickly to changing conditions like the weather, car problems, fatigue etc. It is hard to get yourself to shut down and get rest in between stints, but it’s essential that you do otherwise you’ll be worn out before you get to the end.

 

“I think you’ll find most drivers enjoy driving at night; I find that the most enjoyable time. There is something about night time driving that gives you a different level of focus; all the lighting at Daytona blocks out a lot of the visual distractions you would see in the day time. The other time of race that is a favorite of mine is when the sun rises on Sunday morning, as it comes up it re-energizes everyone and it’s a reminder that the finish is near.

 

“The key to winning the race is a combination of many things but it usually comes down to preparation and sticking to your plan. Speed is important, but when you look back at the history of the race it is usually won by being consistent, smart in traffic, staying out of trouble and the team’s ability to deal with adversity. Every team will face unforeseen challenges during the race, and many times success hinges on how well you deal with it. I think one of the keys to CORE’s success over the years is how well prepared and organized they are.”

– James Gue

 

 

15-CORE-MW-Headshot“The Roar test went very well. The car ran flawlessly and the pace was spot on. The balance of the car is where we want it to be for a 24-hour race and I think we are well positioned for the race.

 

“I think the real take away from last year’s race is how we achieved the result. We collectively focused on execution, kept the car out of trouble and ran a strong but smart pace. I think we will utilize a similar mindset going into this year’s Rolex 24.

 

“I’d say the toughest part of a 24-hour race is the moment you wake up after a short sleep, in the middle of the night, exhausted and you have to prepare to go flat out. The mind and body say sleep and you have to push through that and get focused. This is certainly one of the most grueling aspects.

 

“So many factors are involved in winning the Rolex 24. I’d say the key factor is the people. Without a great team, it’s certainly a hard one to win. Everyone at CORE is outstanding at what they do and they have every detail covered. It’s the little things that make the difference.”
– Mark Wilkins

 

 

 

Rolex 24 at Daytona | Jan. 22 – 25

 

VENUE

Track Length: 3.56 miles, 12 turns

Race Length: 24 Hours

SCHEDULE (All times Eastern)

Thursday, January 22

9:25am – 10:25am: Practice #1 (All Classes)

1:20pm – 1:50pm: Practice #2 (All Classes)

4:50pm – 5:05pm: Qualifying (PC Class)

6:30pm – 8:00pm: Practice #3 (All Classes)

Friday, January 23

11:25am – 12:25pm: Practice #4 (All Classes)

Saturday, January 24

11:30am – 12:15pm: Driver Autograph Session

12:45pm – 1:45pm: Pre-Race / Open Grid

2:10pm: Green Flag

Sunday, January 25

2:10pm: Checkered Flag

 

TV SCHEDULE (All times Eastern)

LIVE Qualifying:

Thursday, January 22

4:00pm – 5:30pm: IMSA.com

LIVE Race U.S.:

Saturday, January 24

2:00pm – 4:00pm: FOX

4:00pm – 8:00pm: FOX Sports 2

8:00pm – 10:00pm: FOX Sports 1

Overnight (Jan. 24 – 25)

10:00pm – 7:00am: IMSA.com

Sunday, January 25

7:00am – 2:30pm: FOX Sports 1

 

LIVE In-Car Cameras & Commentary:

IMSA.com

 

 

CORE autosport Tops Daytona Testing

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 11, 2015) – CORE autosport kicked off its 2015 season at the Roar Before the 24, the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship’s official test session for the Rolex 24 at Daytona. After three days of testing, CORE’s No. 54 Composite Resources/Flex-Box ORECA FLM09 came out on top of the Prototype Challenge times.

With eight total sessions spread from Friday through Sunday, drivers Jon Bennett, Colin Braun, James Gue and Mark Wilkins had plenty of time to put the No. 54 through its paces, feel out different track conditions and practice pit stop procedures. This included a night session on Saturday and a wet session on Sunday morning. Having checked off all it’s test items, the team opted to skip Sunday’s final session to get a head start on its trip back to Rock Hill, S.C.

Beautiful conditions on Saturday morning brought about the fastest times of the weekend. It was in Practice 3 that Braun set the fastest PC time of the event, a 1:41.769 (125.932 mph). Braun’s PC pole time for the 2014 Rolex 24 at Daytona was a 1:41.777 (125.922 mph).

CORE’s roster of drivers and crew remains largely unchanged and it is with this group that it won the 2014 Rolex 24 race. The time to defend that victory is now less than two weeks away. The Rolex 24 at Daytona goes green, Saturday, Jan. 24 at 2:10pm ET and will be broadcast live on FOX until 4pm, when coverage will switch to FOX Sports 2.

 

15-CORE-headshot-CB-helmet“Yeah, I think everything was good to go off the truck. We had a list of things we wanted to work through and try and continue to build on from last year. We were just checking things off the list. It’s nice when you show up at a test and it’s the same group of personnel. I think that’s a real big help for us. Nobody had to get used to anything, they just got right to work.
 
“I think we had enough clear track time that we were able to accomplish what we wanted, but also get a taste of what it’s like in traffic. I think we definitely had less cars on the entry list and that made it a bit easier to get clear laps than in years past.
 
“We have a reasonable grip on the new rules now. We had a mid-day rule change on the first day of testing. That keeps you on your toes, but we’re adaptable and ready to figure it out and that’s what makes us a strong group.
 
“We feel really prepared and ready to go. Obviously there’s not a whole lot of time between now and the 24-hour race like there has been in year’s past, so the boys have a lot of work to do to get the car ready to go, but we’ve got good people in place and they know what to do. There’s not enough time to work on a whole lot, so I’m really glad we put in a lot of time preparing over the off season. We knew the short break was coming and we’re ready to go!”

CORE Ready for PC Title Defense

Four-time Prototype Challenge Champions CORE autosport will kick off its 2015 TUDOR United SportsCar season and a drive for five with ‘Roar Before the 24’ testing at Daytona International Speedway.

Reigning PC Driver Champions Jon Bennett and Colin Braun return for their fourth season as co-drivers in the No. 54 Composite Resources ORECA FLM09.

Also back in the driver seat for CORE are James Gue who will join the lineup for all Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup races and Mark Wilkins, who completes the team’s Rolex 24 at Daytona lineup. This replicates CORE’s 2014 Daytona-winning lineup.

‘Roar Before the 24’ is IMSA’s official three-day test for the Rolex 24 at Daytona. All teams have eight track sessions available from Friday, Jan. 9 to Sunday, Jan. 11, including one night session. CORE then has a short week and a half to prepare for the legendary 24-hour endurance classic.
Noteworthy

  • 2015 marks CORE’s sixth season of professional sportscar racing
  • In addition to winning the PC team and driver championship in 2014, CORE won the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup in 2014.
  • Together Jon Bennett and Colin Braun have amassed nine PC-class victories
  • Daytona is now the only combined road course / oval on the TUDOR schedule.
  • Braun will appear on FOX35’s Good Morning Orlando, Thursday, Jan. 8

“I believe winning races, especially long endurance races, involves much more than outright speed. Colin, James, Mark, and myself have mutual respect for what each of us brings to the effort. We have good chemistry with each other and the entire team. We take care of each other and we all look after the car. We arrive fit and fresh and we all know everything else is outside our control. Each time we perform together, the bond gets stronger and our performance follows,

“Last year CORE had many new challenges to overcome. The Rolex 24 was our team’s first 24 hour race and our only chance to make a good first impression with our new factory racing partner, Porsche. The result was stunning with a double victory for our PC and GTLM cars. This day may never be repeated and that’s okay. Our mission and process for the 2015 race will be the same as last year. Like all events, we control the process and must adapt to circumstances beyond our control. There is a sense of calm in this approach.

“The key to a successful test is successful testing. Successful testing is not a straightforward as it seems. We will come to the Roar with a plan to gather the most useful experience possible. We are expecting new regulations that will dramatically change the dynamics of our PC car. We hope to create a blueprint for tuning our race car considering these new regulations

“The short off season is a blessing and a curse. It’s a great time to recharge the batteries and polish up the physical training. But, honestly, I miss the race car after about a week. Colin and I spend quite a bit of time karting and that helps fill the void a bit.”
– Jon Bennett

 

14-CORE-web-Braun-Headshot“Certainly, having the same group of drivers, engineers and mechanics together for such a long time, I think that, that is one of the strengths of our team; everyone’s ability to know their role and position and do their job and not have a lot of fuss.

“I’m looking forward to the Roar test. We have a lot of test items we want to run through and things the series has come up with, some new potential rules and things to try. I’m not clear on what they’re going to land on for the race, but I think they’ve got some different things they’d like to see us try. We’ll do some of those and see what works and try to get everyone some seat time and get comfortable, because when it comes to the actual race weekend it seems like you hardly get any practice time with all the cars and the red flags. You have to get the bulk of your work done at the Roar before you get to the race.”

– Colin Braun

 

 

driver_gue_400x400“I feel very fortunate to have been a part of the CORE autosport team. It was certainly the most successful year of racing I have had. Winning Daytona, Sebring, Watkins and the NAEC Championship while helping Jon and Colin win the PC Championship was a dream season.

“I think CORE’s success can be attributed to all the guys back at the shop and engineering support. The level of detail and level of preparation is second to none and I think it is especially relevant for the longer races.

“To return to Daytona with the same winning lineup is ideal. The 24-hour race is so difficult to win, so if you can keep the continuity and not have any added variables it’s a big plus. It’s rare that you get four drivers that really work well together; so to keep the team together heading back to Daytona gives everyone confidence.

“The Roar test is going to be really important this year as the series has recently announced a number of rules changes for the PC class. So, it will be important for us to evaluate the effects the changes have.”
– James Gue

 

14-CORE-Wilkins“I’m extremely excited to be back with my Rolex 24 champions! Last year was a dream come true for me and I can’t wait to work towards a repeat! It’s a real honor to be racing with Jon, Colin and James. These guys do such a great job behind the wheel. The CORE guys build an awesome car and the passion they put into their work is inspiring.

“I imagine it will take me a few laps to get reacquainted with the PC car because it’s a fair bit different than what I have been driving. That being said, I love PC and with the help of my teammates and a few laps at the test, I’ll be in good shape!

“Driving an open top car at Daytona is pretty wild. When we catch the GT cars we get some buffeting and it takes some getting use to that turbulence. Nothing like 180 plus miles an hour without a roof!

“My main focus at the test will be to get myself up to speed quickly while working with my teammates to find the best race setup possible. We have a slightly modified rule structure for the class, so we need to feel that out and the test is the best opportunity to do that.”
– Mark Wilkins

SCHEDULE (All times Eastern)
Friday, January 9
10:20am – 12:05pm: Practice #1 (All Classes)
2:55pm – 5:25pm: Practice #2 (All Classes)
Saturday, January 10
9:00am – 10:45am: Practice #3 (All Classes)
1:05pm – 2:35pm: Practice #4 (All Classes)
4:15pm – 5:15pm: Practice #5 (All Classes)
6:45pm – 8:15pm: Practice #6 (All Classes)
Sunday, January 11
10:20am – 12:05pm: Practice #7 (All Classes)
2:40pm – 3:40pm: Practice #8 (All Classes)