ROCK HILL, S.C. (Jan. 27, 2016) – The 2016 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship kicks off this weekend with the 54th Running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona. Defending Prototype Challenge Champions CORE autosport are in search of their second victory at the twice-around-the-clock race, after a heartbreaking finish robbed the team of that feat in 2015.
Full-season drivers Jon Bennett and Colin Braun are joined by Mark Wilkins and Martin Plowman in the No. 54 Composite Resources/Flex Box ORECA FLM09. Bennett, Braun and Wilkins were part of the 2014 lineup that won the Rolex 24, while Plowman makes his race debut with CORE this week.
The 3.56-mile “roval” uses all four of Daytona International Speedway’s banked turns plus the banked start/finish section. This will place a lot of g-force on the drivers and make the right-side tires work hard. The banking and speeds also make spotters a necessity for the drivers.
No rain is predicted for the 54th running of the Rolex 24. Temperatures will be comfortable with highs nearing 70F and lows around 50F.
- This is Braun’s 12th consecutive Rolex 24 start. He’s entered every since he was 16.
- Braun and Plowman used to race karts against each other in Europe.
- Plowman has kept busy between Roar and Rolex 24 by getting married.
- CORE COO Morgan Brady has been named a partner at Composite Resources. His duties with CORE will continue as usual.
- Braun holds the PC lap record at Daytona, a 1:41.777 (125.922 mph), set in 2014.
“There are a few races in the world that everyone in the motorsports universe is aware of, like the Indianapolis 500, Daytona 500, Le Mans 24, Monaco Grand Prix. I think that the Daytona 24 ranks in that list. For me, it’s very important and it’s an iconic, international race and I’m so glad to be here.
“There’s two relatively stressful times to drive: the first lap and the last lap. My favorite time to drive is the shift between 2:15 and 3:30 in the morning. There’s something about the cool night air. The race is always full-on, but there’s a certain calmness in the night that I enjoy.
“We’re very fortunate to have the same spotters over the years. We don’t have spotters at every race, so it takes a little time to get used to them, but since they’re not new to the team, it doesn’t take very long. It’s almost relaxing to have that voice in the background with you in the car, warning you about things that could be trouble ahead and on occasion, a little bit of encouragement.
“This is an iconic race and I enjoy being distracted to some degree by the pomp and circumstance. You do have to remember to stay grounded. This is a very serious race and the first race in our season. They are taking score, points are being awarded, so you can’t drift away too far. It’s a lot of fun walking to the car on Saturday and seeing all the fans, but then things get really serious.”
– Jon Bennett
“The Rolex 24 at Daytona is a race that every driver, no matter their background, wants to win. That’s why you see NASCAR guys and open-wheel guys and people from all over the world driving in this race. It took me 10 tries to finally get a win in 2014. This year is my 12th shot at it and it never gets easier. You can hit all your marks, but it’ll still throw you a curve ball like it did for us last year.
“There’s not a whole lot of daytime racing at Daytona and the sunrise and sunset times can be difficult if you’re in the car, because of the sun shining in your eyes; especially in an open cockpit car, we don’t have anything besides our visors protecting us from glare. That’s why we have to chose them wisely depending on the conditions.
“At CORE we’re all about preparation, taking things one step at a time and constantly improving. I think that mentality is especially important for these long endurance races. We’ve prepared as best we can for every scenario and we’re going to execute according to the plan we’ve laid out but be ready to adjust for any problems that come our way. I have a great group of co-drivers in Jon, Mark and Martin that all share that mindset so I think we’ll be in good shape.”
– Colin Braun
“The Rolex 24 is up there as one of the biggest races in the world and is definitely amongst the most prestigious endurance races. It certainly wouldn’t hurt to add winning the Rolex 24 to your résumé. It’s one of those races that every driver wants to win.
“Daytona is one of the only tracks where I think it’s critical to have a spotter on a road course, as they really help you to cut through slower traffic especially in the braking zones coming off of the oval banking; they enable us to make quick decisions without hesitation and having to look in the mirrors.
“I love driving at night, but it’s also the most tricky as it can get quite cold, so your tires are stone cold when you first leave the pits. The outlap is always very, very tricky and feels like driving on an ice rink!
“Sunrise and sunset are both equally challenging purely from a visibility standpoint. Visor selection is hard, but I always go conservative which means running a clear visor. When the sun reflects low off of the track there are times when you are literally driving blind and drive using only your reference points on the side of the track.
“Nicole and I enjoyed a really nice break away from our phones in Palm Beach on a sort of ‘mini-moon’. I’ll treat her to a longer celebration later in the year when the schedule permits, but for now my focus is fully on Daytona!”
– Martin Plowman
“The Rolex 24 is certainly the highlight race of the year for me and is the premier endurance race in North America. The only endurance race in my mind that comes close is Le Mans.
“I love driving at night under the lights. I find I can really get into my sweet spot as a driver and the stints just fly by. A close second would be the mid-morning stint on Sunday as the end of the race closes in. The trickiest times to drive are certainly the sunset and sunrise where you experience lots of glare. Picking the right visor is tricky especially if you end up driving into the dark!
“Spotters are also key to success in this race. They allow the drivers to really focus forward and not worry so much about what’s behind them. They can be crucial to preventing or avoiding on track incidents. Spotters at Daytona are a must in my mind!”
– Mark Wilkins
Rolex 24 at Daytona | Jan. 22 – 25
Track Length: 3.56 miles, 12 turns
Race Length: 24 Hours
SCHEDULE (All times Eastern)
Thursday, January 28
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 29
10:25am – 11:25pm: Practice #4 (All Classes)
Saturday, January 30
12:00pm – 12:45pm: Driver Autograph Session
1:05pm – 2:20pm: Pre-Race / Open Grid
2:40pm: Green Flag
Sunday, January 31
2:40pm: Checkered Flag
TV SCHEDULE (All times Eastern)
Thursday, January 28
4:00pm – 5:30pm: IMSA.tv & IMSA App
LIVE Race U.S.:
Saturday, January 30
2:00pm – 4:00pm: FOX Sports 1
4:00pm – 10:00pm: FOX Sports 2
Overnight (Jan. 30 – 31)
10:00pm – 7:00am: IMSA.tv & IMSA App
Sunday, January 31
7:00am – 10:30am: FOX Sports 1
10:30am – 1:00pm: FOX Sports 2
1:00pm – 2:40pm: FOX Sports 1
LIVE Race International:
2:00pm Saturday – 3:00pm Sunday: IMSA.tv & IMSA App
LIVE In-Car Cameras & Commentary: IMSA.tv & IMSA App