Archive for “March, 2016”

CORE autosport Wins 12 Hours of Sebring

CORE autosport captured its third Prototype Challenge victory at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring fueled by Fresh From Florida. Leading more laps than any other PC car, the team also took home its first Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup win of the 2016 WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season.

Although Colin Braun qualified the No. 54 Flex-Box/Composite Resources ORECA FLM09 on the class pole, CORE started the 12-hour race from the back of the grid after electing to change its starting driver from Braun to Jon Bennett. Making sure Bennett achieved his minimum drive time before the weather deteriorated as forecasted was the team’s first objective to a successful race. With 12 hours of racing ahead and the fastest PC machine on the grid, the team was confident it could make up the positions.

Weather for the race was treacherous as predicted. Bennett started the race under a deceptively sunny sky, but rain arrived just over an hour into the race. Bennett soldiered on through the wet conditions, advancing as high as fourth.

The rain intensified and standing water became an issue around the circuit. When lightning was spotted, race officials immediately issued a red flag. Bennett was seventh at the time.

The red flag lasted 2 hours and 15 minutes. When conditions cleared and racing resumed, Bennett immediately came in for a pit stop and driver change to Braun.

Conditions were still tricky. The rain came and went and sometimes only affected a few corners. Drivers and engineers had to make tough tire decisions at every pit stop. Braun shined in this setting and was soon up to P1. He completed three stints before handing the car off to Mark Wilkins with four hours to go.

Wilkins held strong through two caution-plagued stints and maintained an incredibly tight lead over CORE’s chief rival: the No. 52 of PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports. Wilkins came in for the final hand off to Braun with just under two hours to go. The No. 52 was able to get ahead of Braun thanks to a fuel-only pit stop while the No. 54 took on both fuel and tires.

Braun quickly erased the 21-second lead the No. 52 had pulled out and was back in the lead. He set a new PC race lap record—1:55.545 (116.571 mph)—in the process. Several more full-course cautions eliminated any gap he could build to second place.

The No. 52 had one last go at the PC lead on a restart from yellow with 30 minutes to go, but Braun was back around and into the top spot for good 10 minutes later. He crossed the finish line with a 1.282-second margin of victory.

The win is CORE’s third at the 12 Hours of Sebring. It’s first two came in 2012 and 2014. Bennett and Braun were both part of the 2014-winning lineup.

Sebring is the second of four races that make up the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup. By leading the PC class longer than any of its competitors, CORE takes home the TPNAEC win for Sebring and earns valuable points for the season-long title.

CORE will shift gears dramatically for Round Three on the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship calendar; it heads to the Grand Prix of Long Beach, a temporary street circuit, for a 100-minute race, April 15 – 16.

 

16-CORE-JB-HeadshotW“Winning is important and I’m so glad to be here. It is a privilege to be part of this group inside the car and also the extended group outside the car. It was really amazing to watch the team work on this problem today, which was getting to the end of the 12 hours without any problems or missing anything strategically, as well figuring out the curveballs this race throws at you. Sebring is such a historic place and to have won our class tonight is amazing.
 
“With the way the regulations are, we don’t get to showcase Colin in qualifying, where he belongs. I think it’s nice when Colin can qualify the car and it doesn’t really change our strategy for the race. It’s important to give him that opportunity. Colin of course delivered on Friday with the pole. On these long races, being in that gap between the prototype and GT cars is not such a bad place to be.”
– JON BENNETT

 

16-CORE-CB-Headshot“It was fun racing Tom Kimber-Smith (driver of No. 52) and that whole group. They are such a great team and classy competitors. It was definitely an all-day race. We almost had the field down a lap, but unfortunately we were slowed down by an incident on track. Mark [Wilkins] did a great job before I got in the car, holding Tom off for about an hour-and a-half . That was a really tense part of the race from my seat, but I’m sure even more so from Mark’s seat!
 
“Then, I got back in the car and was able to gain a little gap before we cycled through some pit stops. At the end, I restarted with Tom right behind me. I’m not really sure what happened on the restart but some GT car basically drove into my door and it spun me out. That caused me to go to the back and then I had about 15 minutes to make it back through the field. I just kept my fingers crossed that we didn’t get too many cautions so that we would have a chance to do it, and we did.”
– COLIN BRAUN

 

16-CORE-MW-Headshot“I had to push and dig a little today. There was a lot of pressure and my goal was to stay out front. Tom [Kimber-Smith] was never more than a couple seconds behind and he really kept me working hard. I knew it was going to be a close race. I did whatever I needed to do to keep the car in the position it was in.
 
“The CORE autosport guys gave us a fantastic car. Jon did a great job in really adverse weather and Colin did an amazing job to bring it home at the end. It was a nail-biter for a long time and that’s what makes the victory so great. It was just what we needed after a really tough Daytona. Hopefully, this sets the momentum forward for a great rest of the season.
 
“Jeff Braun (race engineer) delivered a great race car. He and I won this race together in 2010 with Jeff engineering, and he just really knows how to make a car work at Sebring. Everyone’s contributions today were critical. We want races to be tough and to showcase the talent on the team and why CORE has been so successful.”
– MARK WILKINS

CORE autosport Dominates Sebring PC Qualifying

Colin Braun earned his second Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring fueled by Fresh From Florida pole position in dominant fashion. From the green flag to the checkered, Braun’s spot at the top of the Prototype Challenge field was never challenged as he secured CORE autosport’s grid position for Saturday’s WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race.

Driving the No. 54 Flex-Box/Composite Resources ORECA FLM09, Braun immediately went to the top of the timing screens. The Texan proceeded to get faster with each lap. When the 15-minute qualifying session came to an end, Braun had the PC pole position with a 1:54.910 (117.170 mph), 0.933-second clear of the second-place car. It is Braun’s second pole at Sebring (first in 2013) and CORE’s 14th pole position in IMSA’s PC class.

Braun will start the car for Saturday’s 12-hour race, but shares driving duties with Jon Bennett and Mark Wilkins. The second round of the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship is expected to have mixed weather conditions; the forecast calls for a 50-percent chance of rain in the evening.

CORE autosport has won the 12 Hours of Sebring twice, most recently in 2014. Last year the No. 54 finished second by a scant 11.6 seconds.

The green flag flies on Sunday at 10:40am ET. Live TV coverage begins at 10:30am ET on FOX Sports 1. Live timing, radio and in-car cameras are available on IMSA.com.

16-CORE-CB-Headshot“It was a good qualifying for us. We’ve been quick all week. We spent a lot of time working on the new PC upgrades when we came to test in February, but this week was really the first time we got to work on our car setup.

 

“We just looked at it like a new tire race run and just let it happen. We were excited to have that much speed and qualify on the pole. It was a testament to all of the work the guys have done and the good driving Jon, Mark and I do as a team.

 

“We came up short last year and finished second by just a little bit. We’ve always run well at Sebring. With it being a longer distance race, it’s a place that so many elements play into the race. You’ve got to be super fast, and you’ve got to have good strategy. It looks like tomorrow we may have some variable weather conditions too. I expect tomorrow to be as it always is – you’ve got to make it through the first 10 hours and then you see where it all plays out in the last two hours. That’s part of the fun.”
– COLIN BRAUN

CORE Poised for Strong Sebring Performance

ROCK HILL, S.C. (March 15, 2016) – Defending Prototype Challenge champions CORE autosport are on a mission to rebound at Sebring International Raceway after exiting the season opener at Daytona early.

CORE has experienced plenty of success at the Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring fueled by Fresh from Florida, including a second-place finish last year and wins in 2012 and 2014.

This week, CORE and the rest of the PC teams come into Sebring with an engine and electronics upgrade. The Chevrolet LS3 engine is now 25lbs lighter thanks to a new crank and rod, while the car’s electronics are now controlled via a Motec system that provides predictive lap times, live telemetry and traction control.

All these enhancements will serve Jon Bennett, Colin Braun and Mark Wilkins well on the notoriously challenging 3.4-mile Sebring circuit, which is partially made up of old concrete airport runways. The multiple surfaces and bumps make the track very physically demanding on the drivers.

Notes

• CORE autosport has finished on the Sebring podium six times including wins in 2012 and 2014.
• Bennett has made five starts at Sebring, finishing on the podium in 2011, 2012 and 2014.
• Braun has made six starts at Sebring, finishing on the podium in 2012 and 2014. He was the PC polesitter in 2013.
• Wilkins has made two starts at Sebring and won in his debut in 2010. Jeff Braun was the engineer for that victory.
• CORE autosport welcomes new associate sponsor Micro Waterjet LLC, a world leader in contract manufacturing of precision components using proprietary cutting technology. Their micron-precise process harnesses the power of a high-pressure stream of water applied with finer-than-pinpoint accuracy.

16-CORE-JB-HeadshotW“I am extremely happy with our new package on the PC cars. The improvements will bring our class into alignment with the other classes in the WeatherTech Championship. While I felt the PC car was certainly drivable in its previous configuration, it was not compatible with the other traction control assisted classes on cold tires or in the rain. The new Motec electronics and real-time telemetry will certainly be appreciated as the season progresses.
 
“Traction control is a new experience for me. I had a short exposure to our new system during its development phase at the last Sebring test. Drake DeVore from Motec did an amazing job fine-tuning the parameters to match the PC car. I began to trust the new system toward the end of our test. I am sure that a new driving style will emerge and some hard wired ‘catch’ reflexes will need to be suppressed. I am looking forward to adapting to this new technology.
 
“Predictive lap times can be a double-edged sword depending on the driver’s personality. I have lived without predictive lap times since I left IMSA Lites. For me, predictive lap times can be a distraction. It takes some discipline to use predictive lap times and not be taunted into over driving.
 
“Certainly, we will match the traffic much better on cold tires and in the rain. In normal competition, the new enhancements will make the PC car a bit faster and easier to drive quickly. How each team and driver adapts over the next few races will be interesting to watch.”
– Jon Bennett
16-CORE-CB-Headshot“We have a lot of different bits on the car from an electronics standpoint and the engine package has changed a bit. We spent some time doing a bit of development work at the winter test and we’re really excited about the new stuff. It’s a great step forward for the car and maybe it’ll re-excite people about the class.
 
“I know myself, Jon and Mark all enjoy driving at Sebring. I think the bumps present a good challenge and are what makes Sebring fun and interesting. The track surface is what makes it an iconic and historic track; it’s what makes Sebring, Sebring.
 
“How the traction control will handle the bumpiness is something we’re still as a team and as a class trying to understand. I don’t think we know quite enough about that aspect of it yet. It should make it easier not to spin the tires over the bumps, which will be helpful, especially on cold tires.
 
“I think traffic will be a bit easier too with the traction control and will make it easier for the gentlemen drivers; it’ll help those guys out who struggle with the torque these cars make and on cold tires and restarts. It’s a good step foreword for the series, because up to now we’ve been the only class without traction control, which makes those situations extremely challenging.”
– Colin Braun

16-CORE-MW-Headshot“After Daytona, I was very excited to experience the changes to the PC car for Sebring. The test allowed us some time to get acquainted with all of the changes and I think they were all positives. The addition of the Motec data system really upgrades the whole electronics package in the car. More data for the drivers to review, a cleaner and crisper display and obviously the addition of traction control is a functional improvement to the car.
 
“With the new upgrades, the car seemed pretty lively overall. With a bit more of a racier feel. I think it will be a bit easier to get through traffic. Obviously, the addition of traction control may help in this area as well, especially in less than ideal track conditions. As always, using the aero capabilities of the PC and keeping the momentum up is key to navigating slower traffic.
 
“I think the approach to managing a 12-hour is a touch different than a 24 simply due to the race length. I always find the 12-hour is more intense; perhaps it’s the track being more demanding and less forgiving overall than Daytona. If you fall behind in a 12-hour, it’s harder to make it back up with less time on the clock.”
– Mark Wilkins