CORE autosport’s quest for its first podium in its new Porsche 911 GT3 R was dashed at the Northeast Grand Prix at Lime Rock Park with an early exit just before the halfway mark.
A showcase of GT-only cars and the shortest track on the IMSA schedule (1.474 miles), Lime Rock Park challenges teams with fierce traffic and fast corners. Added to the challenge this weekend was intense heat with temperatures reaching upwards of 90 degrees.
Though Colin Braun was the second quickest in GTD qualifying, it was the team’s strategy to use qualifying as an additional practice session and start Jon Bennett in the No. 54 Composite Resources/Flex Box Porsche 911 GT3 R on fresh tires. The change resulted in the No. 54 starting the race at the back on the grid, 17th in the GT Daytona class.
Just over 45 minutes into the race, and nearing the completion of his stint, Bennett reported trouble over the radio. The engine lost power and the car coasted through the final corner with enough momentum for Bennett to maneuver onto pit lane. The CORE crew quickly got the car back to the paddock for repairs, but upon inspection it was clear the problem was terminal.
CORE has two weeks to regroup before it hits the track again at the Continental Tire Road Race Showcase in Elkhart Lake, WI. The GT classes rejoin with the Prototype classes to take on the four-mile circuit, August 3 – 6.
“The team did a wonderful job tuning the car and optimizing as much performance as we could get. It was exciting to see Colin nearly get the pole yesterday.
“My race start was fairly aggressive. In past races, I did my best to keep the GT field in sight and hand Colin the car in a position to move up the ranks. Today, I intended to do the same and get the car up several spots before handing it to Colin. At the start, I got on the inside of the number 50 car with moderately cold tires. I had a bit too much enthusiasm and ran into some trouble. However, I caught back up with the GTD field and was driving one of the better races I had driven in a long time.
“Then, on what ended up being my last lap, unfortunately, I nipped one of the curves in the chicane. As I climbed the hill on the backside of the track, I got a red warning light that something was amiss and I coasted back to the pits. We have one of the hardest working teams, so it’s always disappointing to end the race early.
“The GTD field looks a lot different on race day than it does in practice. I would even say during qualifying too. It takes a lot of discipline to have an optimistic outlook racing against factory teams and nearly all-pro lineups. I’m looking forward to the challenge, and we’re all looking forward to Road America. We’ll re-rack and hope for a better result at the next race.
“We were quick in practice. Jon did well in the car and we made some improvements with the setup of the car. The guys did a great job too. It was fun to get to qualify and to be up in the mix. I was so close to getting the pole! It was a fun weekend and a disappointing way to end an event.”