Archive for “June, 2017”

CORE Ready to Flex Its Endurance Muscles

ROCK HILL, S.C. (June 28, 2017) – It’s been a month since CORE autosport last took part in the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and drivers Jon Bennett and Colin Braun are itching to get back into the No. 54 Porsche 911 GT3 R. They’ll be re-joined by Nic Jönsson at Watkins Glen International for the Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen.

 

After three IMSA rounds lasting two hours and 40 minutes or less, this weekend’s race will go six hours from green to checker. Watkins Glen is part of the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup. It is the third of four races that compose this championship within a championship, Daytona, Sebring and Petit Le Mans being the other races.

 

CORE took part in a test at Watkins Glen in May to prepare for this weekend’s six-hour race. The team won the race in 2014 in the Prototype Challenge category, but this will be its first race at the historic road course in the Porsche 911 GT3 R.

 

Noteworthy

  • CORE autosport won at Watkins Glen in 2014 with Bennett, Braun and Mark Wilkins.
  • The 2014 PC win was from pole position, scored by Braun.
  • CORE finished fourth at WGI in 2015 and sixth in 2016.
  • Jönsson’s last race at WGI was 2012 in the Continental Tire Series.
  • Jönsson won the 2005 WGI race in a Daytona Prototype with Krohn Racing.
  • WGI marks the halfway point of the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season.

 

“The long race at Watkins Glen provides a great opportunity for our first podium of the season. CORE autosport excels at the longer endurance races. These long races allow our team to leverage our skills in car preparation, race strategy, and quick pit stops.

 

“Turn 10 is my favorite portion at Watkins Glen. It’s slightly banked and super fast. It reminds me of a quick flick turn on a bobsled run.

 

“Our recent test at The Glen was helpful to learn how our new Porsche will perform during the race event. We discovered a few tuning concepts that should give us an advantage during the race. Testing always helps confidence by providing an opportunity to experiment and uncover techniques to find speed. With Colin’s support and Jeff Braun’s engineering, I was able to continuously reduce lap times throughout the test. We were all encouraged with our results at the conclusion of the test.

 

“Colin and I are happiest when inside a race car. While alternating between IMSA and GRC has been fun, we are looking forward to this active period of the IMSA season.”
– JON BENNETT

 

“I’m looking forward to a longer race. We seem to do well in longer races with more pit stops and more opportunity to execute good strategy. That’s what we excel at as a group.

 

“We had a really good test at Watkins Glen a month ago. One of the biggest things that came out of it was a breakthrough moment for Jon. He gained a lot of confidence from being able to drive the car flat-out in the privacy of our test session.

 

“For me, it’s been a busy schedule between IMSA, GRC and my coaching commitments. I love that part of the job. The opportunity to be busy and always driving race cars is what I love to do. No matter what the series is or what race track we’re at, I’m pushing to the limit. It’s becoming similar for Jon too, incorporating the GRC schedule into the mix. It’s going to be a lot of fun clicking off a bunch of back-to-back IMSA weekends and getting some momentum going on the Porsche side of things.”
 – COLIN BRAUN

 

“Watkins Glen has everything you could ask for. I like the whole track and the whole environment. It’s an old-school track with elevation changes, high-speed sweeping corners and hard braking zones. It’s on my list of top-five tracks in the world. If I had to pick a favorite section, it’s probably The Boot section from the Bus Stop until you come back to the straight.

 

“I haven’t been to Watkins Glen since they repaved it (2015). I’ve spoken with Jon and Colin and other drivers over the last couple of years about it. Like any other track, it gains a lot of grip, which is no big surprise. I can imagine the physical aspect of it has changed as well. Anytime you pick up more grip, it becomes more physical. I think you won’t have as much tire degradation. It’s going to be a very close, tight, competitive race just because people will probably double or even triple-stint tires. I don’t think the traction-control or ABS will be much of a factor because of the grip level. It’s going to be very high-pace, possibly the fastest Six Hours of The Glen ever.”
 – NIC JÖNSSON

Another GRC Podium for CORE at Demanding Ottawa Circuit

OTTAWA, Canada (June 20, 2017) – CORE autosport took home another podium finish in an especially grueling Red Bull Global Rallycross weekend in Canada. While both of the team’s GRC Lites cars took a beating in the doubleheader, driver Colin Braun scored a second-place finish in Saturday’s final.

 

GRC’s first event in Canada took place on the runways of the Ottawa-Rockcliffe Airport, just next door to the Canada Aviation and Space Museum. The fan turnout was impressive despite the threat of storms in the area.

 

The doubleheader got off to a great start for Braun, who won his opening heat in the No. 56. Teammate Jon Bennett had the opposite experience, however, when an engine failure took him out of the first heat, and subsequently the rest of the day.

 

A strong Heat 2 and Semi-Final for Braun, put him in a great starting position for Saturday’s Final. He was able to take advantage of that and finish runner-up behind the championship leader. It was Braun’s second podium of the 2017 GRC season.

 

Sunday brought the promise of a fresh start for both Bennett and Braun. For Sunday’s event, the series switched the Joker Lap around, which was planned, but made additional unexpected changes to the track between practice and qualifying, which had the CORE crew hustling to make set-up changes to both cars.

 

Braun struggled in Heat 1, but bounced back to win Heat 2 and finished second in the Semi-Final.

 

Bennett’s car still had some mechanical gremlins to work out through the Heats and Semi-Final, but was feeling fast once he got to the Final. The No. 54 started from the back, but Bennett was moving up as soon as the green dropped. The rough dirt section thwarted his forward progress though; two hard landings there caused the suspension to fail and took Bennett out of the race.

 

A poor start for Braun in Sunday’s Final had him fighting to make up ground. One of those fights included some significant side-by-side contact that bent the suspension on the No. 56. Braun soldiered on with his injured car and finished eighth.

 

The GRC Lites races from Ottawa will air on NBC Sports Network, Wednesday, June 21, at 5pm ET.

 

CORE autosport will put the trials of Ottawa behind it now and focus on the next round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. The Six Hours of the Glen takes place June 30 – July 2 in Watkins Glen, N.Y.

 

 

“Ottawa was a great circuit at a super interesting location: the Canada Aviation and Space Museum. The weather was threatening all weekend, but primarily dry. A lot of Canadian fans came out to watch the GRC races. It was probably one of the better-attended events of the year.

 

“My Ottawa event was a string of mechanical misfortunes from the start. I had a good practice session but during qualifying I ended up with a stuck throttle, which led to a gearbox issue in the following heat race. It decided to completely fail and with multiple downshifts over-reving the engine, the gearbox failure cascaded into a full engine failure and I was done for the day.

 

“Sunday morning in warm up we were still sorting out an electrical and then a sensor problem. I wasn’t competitive and was struggling mechanically through the heat races. We got the car sorted for the final. I was quite competitive and moving my way up, but two hard landings back-to-back caused the suspension to fail.

 

“My hat’s off to the crew, especially my crew chief Darren Papworth. He worked very, very fast and feverishly all weekend. He did everything he could to get the car back on track and solve the mechanical issues quite quickly.”

 

“I’m looking forward to our next race when all the mechanical gremlins will be behind us!”
JON BENNETT

 

 

“Obviously we had an up and down weekend. It was a really cool track with an interesting layout that kept changing throughout the weekend, which was exciting. They tweaked the lead up to the jump area quite a bit all three days.

 

“We had some good speed in our cars. We weren’t the outright fastest, but the guys kept working on them and did a great job finding more speed. We were able to shine with some good calls on the Joker Lap and things like that, that helped us move to the front.

 

“We had some really good heat races on Saturday that put us in a good position in the Semi-Final. We were fortunate on quite a few of the starts and first couple of corners. We seemed to always have a good position coming out of the second corner and with how hard it is to pass in GRC, that’s critical. I’m really happy we were able to execute that well on Saturday. We ended up with a good finish of second in the final. It was a hard fought race.

 

“On Sunday they had a cool layout for practice, but they changed it for qualifying which required a different setup. I think we did a good job adapting to the new layout. All in all we qualified fourth on Sunday, but I had a rough first heat. We won the second heat though and had a good spot to start in the Semi-Final.

 

“We ended up starting fourth in the final. We didn’t get a great start in the first two corners. That put me fifth or sixth coming out of the first set of corners. I was stuck with guys I’m not used to racing and I got caught up in some side-by-side contact, which bent the suspension and effectively ended our race. It was kind of a disappointing way to end what had started as a good weekend on Saturday.

 

“It was an unfortunate weekend for Jon and the No. 54 guys. They worked super hard all weekend and fought and fought, and it was cool to see the whole team gel together trying to get Jon’s car sorted out. They didn’t deserve a weekend like that. I’m really proud of them. The track was not gentle on the cars and they kept our stuff in one piece. Hopefully, we got all the bad luck out of the way in one event. I’m sure we’ll have better times from here forward.”
COLIN BRAUN

CORE Rolls Into Canada for GRC Doubleheader

ROCK HILL, S.C. (June 15, 2017) – CORE autosport is taking its Red Bull Global Rallycross program north of the border this weekend to take part in a GRC Lites doubleheader at the Canada Aviation and Space Museum in Ottawa.

 

While GRC teams will be paddocked just behind the museum, the actual course is made up of runways from the Ottawa-Rockcliffe Airport. The 0.762-mile track is a tight and technical one, but features a generous Joker Lap that knocks 0.44-mile off the full distance. The GRC signature 70-foot jump in the dirt section also marks the finish line and will make for an exciting mid-air finish!

 

The doubleheader means drivers Jon Bennett and Colin Braun have the opportunity to score points in races on both Saturday and Sunday. Currently, Braun is fourth in the GRC Lites Championship standings and Bennett is eighth.

 

Braun and Bennett are coming off of an impressive GRC round in Thompson, Connecticut, two weeks ago, when they raced in both the IMSA WeatherTech Series in Detroit and then used all means possible, including a helicopter, to get to the Thompson track in time for the GRC Lites final. Starting from the back row of the grid, with only one sighting lap to work from, Bennett finished eighth and Braun fourth. Braun went on to pick up his first GRC Lites podium of the year the following day.

 

Saturday’s GRC Lites race in Ottawa is scheduled to begin at 4:40pm ET. Sunday’s race is slated for 4:45pm. Both races will be broadcast on NBC Sports Network, Wednesday, June 21 at 5pm ET.

 

 

 

“I do enjoy my ‘air time’ in our GRC Lites car, so it is appropriate to race near Canada’s museum dedicated to air and space. In fact, I am an instrument-rated pilot and aviation enthusiast, so I hope to find a few minutes to enjoy the museum myself.

 

The Ottawa layout looks interesting and technical. Technique and patience in the dirt section should pay dividends and the Joker merge just before the jump should be entertaining for the fans!

 

“Colin and I both enjoyed our IMSA/GRC double at our last event. I am looking forward to focusing on the GRC Lites car and always look forward to having races on Saturday and Sunday.

 

“The helicopter ride to Thompson was helpful to ensure our arrival before the Saturday final, and I could definitely get used to that kind of service, but I’m fairly confident our arrival at the Ottawa circuit will involve a rental car.”
– JON BENNETT

 

 

“Focusing on one series this weekend will be nice, but I think both Jon and I really enjoyed the challenge of doing both at the last event!

 

“The Ottawa layout looks great. I do have to say that the layouts the series sends out can sometimes be a bit misleading as to what the actual course feels like and drives like, so I usually don’t get too wrapped up in analyzing them. We’ll know what we’re working with when we have a chance to do the real track walk. GRC does a great job with the space they have at each event to make an exciting and fun layout; I am sure this will be no different.

 

“I really, really want to get my first GRC win. I am not as concerned about the points; winning is the goal! I have always disagreed with people on the championship mentality versus winning races. To me, if you want to win races you have to finish races and not crash out, so winning a championship and winning a race really have the same level of driving effort as you cannot crash and win the race. Sure, maybe you turn up the risk a bit more but this is GRC where you can’t turn the risk up much higher!”
– COLIN BRAUN

First GRC Podium of 2017 for CORE autosport

THOMPSON, Conn. (June 5, 2017) – A day after its best IMSA performance of 2017, CORE autosport earned its first Red Bull Global Rallycross podium of 2017 at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park.

 

CORE drivers Jon Bennett and Colin Braun successfully completed a double race weekend in two different states thanks to some help from modern aviation. After finishing eighth on the streets of Detroit in the No. 54 Flex Box / Composite Resources Porsche 911 GT3 R, Bennett and Braun rushed to the Detroit airport to catch a plane to Worcester, Massachusetts. From Worcester, they boarded a helicopter, which landed directly at Thompson Speedway Motorsports Park.

 

The GRC Series was kind enough to allow both Bennett and Braun to take a sighting lap in their GRC Lites cars before the two took up the last spots on the grid for the main.

 

With only the single sighting lap and some video footage to learn from, Braun charged his way to fourth in Saturday’s main, while Bennett finish eighth.

 

On Sunday, the drivers finally got a full day of practice, qualifying and heat races under their belt on the long and technical course. In addition to being the longest circuit thus far on the GRC schedule, the track was quite rough in places, and suspension damage became a key concern for all teams.

 

In a stroke of luck for Bennett and Braun, a heavy rain began to fall on the Thompson track just as the final was about to begin. Having a wet track would seemingly negate all the additional track time CORE’s competitors had on Friday and Saturday.

 

Braun started fourth and Bennett 10th on the GRC Lites grid. Braun had a fantastic start and was into second early in the race. Bennett too was on a tear and up to fifth, but became a victim of the treacherous course and broke a left control arm with only four laps to go.

 

Up front, Braun was unable to close the gap to the race leader and crossed the finish line in second—his first podium of the season.

 

The GRC Lites races from Thompson, will air Wednesday, June 7, on CBS Sports Network, at 5pm ET.

 

Next up for CORE’s GRC program is a doubleheader in Ottawa, Canada, June 17 – 18, at the Canadian Aviation and Space Museum.

 

 

 

“We were coming off a pretty good finish in Detroit and we had some sophisticated air transport methods getting us to Thompson. We landed in Worcester, Massachusetts. The helicopter was already on the ramp with rotors spinning. The helicopter co-pilot met us at the stairs, walked us over and we boarded the helicopter. He said ‘okay, nine minutes and we’ll be on the ground.’

 

“The GRC Series nudged the schedule a little for us and tried to accommodate our needs without giving us too much preferential treatment, which I totally understand. It was nice to be able to do both events and I think they were happy to see us!

 

“My son graduated from high school a few years ago, on the same night I needed to qualify the Prototype Challenge car in Kansas. It was a quick flight to Kansas and I think I landed at 4:40 and was in the racecar at 5:00, so I’m no stranger to the scenario. The advantage is you don’t have a lot of time to overthink what you’re about to do. You’re super focused on whatever information you have and you go out and execute.

 

“On both days, I saw my personal performance improving, but I seem to be in this zone where it’s not showing in my finishing position. I’m racing wheel-to-wheel with guys who have won races and won championships, so I think my podium and my breakout event is just around the corner.

 

“I was looking forward to the wet conditions on Sunday. I think it’s an equalizer and Colin and I have a lot of experience running in the rain compared to some of our competition. There was a lot of chaos and Colin and I were both picking our way through the field.

 

“As interesting as the track was, there were some areas that were really, really hard on the car. I had been lucky all event not having any damage. Sure enough, on lap six out of 10 in the final, it was my turn. I simply hit a hole—not a dirt hole, but a hole in the asphalt—and it snapped the left-side control arm and that was it. I was P5 at the time and holding my own, so that was really encouraging for me.

 

“In any event, the most important thing is that my level of competitiveness is getting strong and stronger and it’s a short time before I’m on the podium and contending for race wins going forward. The team has a great chemistry, so we have all the ingredients for a championship.”

 

“I’d absolutely do the double again!”
– JON BENNETT

 

 

 

 

“It was great of GRC to give us that sighting lap. We had a chance on the plane to look at some video. We had outside car and inside car video. When we arrived, we had a couple minutes to spend with our spotter and team manager. Those guys had watched all the practices and heat races, so it was great to break it down the videos with them and see what the starts looked like and how people were getting into the first corner.

 

“I’m proud of how the logistics came together and how we got to Thompson and set out to do what we wanted to do. It was a big team effort by everybody. Both the GTD guys and the GRC guys did everything they could to make it happen.

 

“The track had a really cool layout. A lot more technical and spread out than what we’ve seen in the last few races. On the one hand I was really excited on the other hand, I was disappointed that we missed out on all the practice sessions, because it was such a long, technical track.

 

“We started ninth in the main. I got a good start and picked through some positions. Without having anything besides the sighting lap, we were a little unsure of what it was going to look like, so we just decided early on to run as many laps as we could and joker on the last lap, because we figured it’d be good to follow the rest of the field. I ran laps, learned the racetrack, made passes, and on the last lap, we jokered and came out fourth. We were quite pleased with that.

 

“In the first heat on Sunday, the track started to break apart in the dirt section. I went through there and found one of the many pot holes and tore the left front suspension off the car. That was the end of Heat 1. Not a good way to start the day, but the guys did a good job getting us fixed up.

 

“It started pouring rain right before the final, which I was really excited about, because I knew nobody had done any laps in the rain prior, so I thought that might equalize the field a little bit.

 

“I got a really good start from fourth. Out of the first set of corners I was into second and just put my head down. It was definitely a fun race in the rain for me. It was only my second time driving a GRC car in the wet, so I was still figuring a lot of things out.

 

“The first two laps I ran pretty hard trying to keep up with the leader, but once I knew I didn’t really have the pace to contend with him, I decided ‘I’m not going to catch the leader and with how bad the conditions are, I’d rather go ahead and finish second and not try to make something happen.’”
– COLIN BRAUN

CORE Cracks Top-10, Finishes Eighth in Detroit

DETROIT, Mich. (June 3, 2017) – CORE autosport earned its best finish of the 2017 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship thus far, finishing eighth on the streets of Detroit’s Belle Isle. The No. 54 Flexbox / Composite Resources Porsche 911 GT3 R driven by Jon Bennett and Colin Braun was also the highest finishing Porsche in the race.

 

Starting from 14th on the GT Daytona grid, Bennett kept the car out of trouble and within striking distance of his GTD competitors during his stint.

 

Thirty minutes into the 100-minute race, the first and only full-course caution was issued for an accident in Turn One. This presented the perfect opportunity to pit and hand the car over to Braun.

 

A flawless pit stop under yellow had Braun back out in 13th and ready for the restart. Competitors serving penalties for pit stop violations immediately bumped Braun up to 11th. He was then able to get around the No. 73 Porsche 911 GT3 R for 10th with 30 minutes left in the race.

 

Two more GTD cars dropped out of contention, promoting the No. 54 to eighth.

 

With three laps to go, Braun went on the attack, running side-by-side with the seventh-place No. 15 Lexus RCF GTS. He came up just short, however, and crossed the line in eighth, the best finish so far for CORE in 2017 IMSA competition and the team’s best finish to-date with the Porsche 911 GT3 R.

 

Immediately after the checkered flag, Bennett and Braun quickly changed into street clothes, grabbed their bags and headed for the airport with the goal of making it to Thompson Speedway in Connecticut in time for the Red Bull Global Rallycross Lites final.

 

The duo’s next IMSA event will be in Watkins Glen, New York. The Six Hours of the Glen, at Watkins Glen International Raceway, will take place June 29 – July 2.

 

“Street courses are unique and so are the starts, but I’m really happy with our performance at this event. We all really gelled together as a group. The team did a great job. The car was well engineered. I’m really starting to understand how to get this car dialed in and what it wants. I’m encouraged by our forward progress in this event and I think that helps set the tone for the team as we move into the second half of the season.

 

“The yellow flag came at the perfect time for everybody, so I’m not sure we got a big advantage, but it certainly fit well within our strategy. I think that with our strategy and chemistry this weekend, it wouldn’t have mattered when the caution came.

 

“My focus never wandered to GRC while I was in the car, but now I’m looking forward to the trip!”
– Jon Bennett

 

“Jon did a good job early in his stint to stay with the pack. We got a pretty timely yellow and the guys did a nice pit stop. We gained a little bit and then lost a little bit on the restart. I got stuck behind some Prototype Challenge and Prototype cars.

 

“We had good pace and I caught back up to the pack. I was able to get around Joerg (Bergmeister) and then I ran bumper to bumper with the Lexus teammates. I think we were a bit quicker, but this place is really tight and that makes it hard to pass. The Lexus is a pretty big car and when you’re racing hard you can make your big car pretty wide. We just didn’t have a large enough edge to pass those guys.

 

“It’s tough at the end, when you get all the P cars coming by and the PC cars coming by. Those guys are having their own race, but it’s disruptive to the flow of traffic for us in the GTD cars. As much as I looked ahead trying to plan a pass when I was in PC, that’s how much I’m looking behind to come up with a plan on when to let those guys by. There’s a lot mental work going on even if it looks like you’re just driving around.”
– Colin Braun

 

CORE Starts Wild Double Race Weekend from 14th at Detroit

DETROIT, Mich. (June 2, 2017) – CORE autosport is on the eve of an attempt to take part in both the IMSA Chevrolet SportsCar Classic and Red Bull Global Rallycross New England events on the same day. That day will begin in earnest when Bennett takes the green flag on the streets of Detroit’s Belle Isle from 14th on the GT Daytona grid.

 

The Belle Isle circuit is made up of roads within a park on an island in the Detroit River. Notoriously bumpy, Bennett and co-driver Colin Braun were pleased to find the temporary circuit much smoother when they took to the track for morning practice.

 

After another round of practice in the afternoon, it was time to qualify. Bennett was at the wheel of the No. 54 Flexbox / Composite Resources Porsche 911 GT3 R for the 15-minute qualifying session. He steadily improved with each lap and even picked up 0.5-second on his final try. This put him 14th on the GTD grid for Saturday’s 100-minute race.

 

Bennett will start the race and hand the Porsche over to co-driver Braun during the pit stop.

 

Once the checkered flag waves, Bennett and Braun will rush to the airport to take a plane to Thompson, Connecticut, where the GRC New England event will already be underway. If all goes according to plan, the two drivers will make it to Thompson Speedway in time to take part in the GRC Lites final. Regardless of when they arrive, they’ll be able to take part in a full day of GRC action on Sunday.

 

The Chevrolet SportsCar Classic from Detroit will air live on FS2, starting at 12:30pm ET, Saturday.

 

 

“Coming into Detroit, we heard a rumor that the track had been improved. Sure enough, they did a spectacular job smoothing out the roughness of this track. I think Colin and I both liked the layout before, but now with a smoother track surface, it’s certainly a joy to come here and race.

 

“In terms of qualifying, of course, I would like to be faster. The transition from the prototype to the Porsche requires a great deal of respect and patience. I’m quite happy with my progression so far. Colin and Jeff Braun have helped me a great deal getting up to speed. Little-by-little, session-by-session, we’re getting faster and I’m looking forward to the race tomorrow.”
– Jon Bennett