ROCK HILL, S.C. (May 2, 2017) – Days after competing in the opening round of the Red Bull Global Rallycross GRC Lites Championship, CORE autosport is back on the road for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. Drivers Jon Bennett and Colin Braun will go from dirt and air time to the immaculate Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas.
CORE has plenty of reasons to look forward to COTA: it’s finished on the podium there in all of its visits with the Prototype Challenge car, including a win in 2015. This year, however, the team takes its GTD Porsche 911 GT3 R for its first crack at the 3.4-mile, 20-turn road course, which hosts the Formula 1 US Grand Prix in October.
Traditionally, IMSA has raced at COTA in September, but this year sees the first time the race is held in the spring. Though temperatures are not expected to be as brutal as September, COTA will still be one of the hottest races on the calendar.
- Thursday, May 5 is Jon Bennett’s birthday.
- Bennett and Colin Braun’s PC win at COTA in 2015 sealed its fifth-straight PC Championship.
- CORE finished second in PC at COTA in 2014 (Bennett & Braun) and third in 2013 (Bennett and Tom Kimber-Smith).
- CORE did not take part in last year’s race at COTA.
- Braun grew up in Ovalo, Texas, 3.5 hours from Austin.
“We’re looking to put together our first mistake-free event of the season. We’ve had several snafus that hurt our performance over the course of the season. We’re looking forward to what our performance will be when we can accomplish a typical CORE weekend, which is normally mistake-free.
“We’re pretty well suited for our first hot race of the season. We have good systems to keep the driver cool. More importantly, in some ways, COTA is our first traditional road circuit with the Porsche. It’s not an oval converted for road racing, it’s not an old airport, and it’s not a street course. We’re looking forward to getting the Porsche onto a more conventional road circuit.
“I like COTA because it’s used for Formula 1, so it has generous amounts of runoff and I like to take risks and I think in the process learn the limits of the race car without putting the equipment in jeopardy. I’m looking forward to that aspect of COTA; it allows you to hang the car out on the edge without big mechanical risks.”
“COTA is a pretty unique place. It’s a very exciting, cool track, since it’s a Formula 1 track. It’s got a lot of first-gear hairpins, it’s got an interesting section of Esses and a really long right-hand corner. It has a lot of unique things that mix together for a track that doesn’t have a lot of flow, but certainly presents a lot of challenges and is fun in that aspect.
“At a place like COTA, with the surface that they have, tire wear isn’t too big of a concern. For us, it’s going to be different since we’re going earlier in the year. We’re used to seeing really high track temperatures and high ambient temps. If we were going back in the PC car, we’d probably take a different approach than previous years, but we’re going in a car that we’ve never run there, so we don’t know any better.
“If you look on paper at the performance Mercedes has had over the first three races, those would have to be the cars to beat. They’ve had good pace and been very dominant. Those were a completely different set of tracks though and COTA is going to be interesting one. It has very long straightaways and very long braking zones. It has a lot of places where putting the power down is going to be important and I think those areas are where the Porsche is going to be very strong.
“Jon and I have both had success at COTA and locked up PC championships there, so I feel like we have a lot of confidence about that circuit. We’re learning every time we go racing with this car. This is the fourth different race track we’ve been to now, so we’re leaps and bounds ahead of where we were. Jon and the whole team have done an amazing job, building on everything through the season, so I’m excited to get things kicked off at COTA.”