CORE autosport completed its 2017 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar season with a hard-fought fifth-place finish at Petit Le Mans. Drivers Jon Bennett, Colin Braun, and Nic Jönsson survived a high-attrition race and successfully rolled the dice on fuel in the team’s final appearance in the GT Daytona category.
Starting from 17th on the grid, Bennett advanced as high as 11th in his opening stint that started in the wet and ended dry. Through both of his stints Bennett had strong restarts and kept the car out of trouble.
Smart strategy from the timing stand kept Jönsson and Braun on the lead lap through their middle stints. The team eventually ran into trouble when Jönsson was hit from behind by a Prototype. Thankfully there was no serious damage and the team continued to press ahead and break into the top 10.
The team cracked the top five shortly after the sun went down at Road Atlanta. Braun was tasked with closing out the race and held onto fifth while saving fuel and maintaining a gap to sixth-place. A late yellow helped Braun save just enough to make it to the checkered flag without issue.
CORE ends its 2017 season with five, top-10 finishes in GTD, including a season-best of fourth at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. The team now looks ahead to 2018 and its debut in the Prototype class with an ORECA 07 LMP2.
“I’m super proud of the team. We had a strong car all week. Our team executed flawlessly. We had amazing stops. Colin and Nic did a tremendous job inside the car. Pretty much, it was a mistake-free 10 hours, which is pretty unheard of in sports car racing. I’m proud to have a top-five finish to go along with our fourth-place finish at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca a few weekends ago. I’m so proud of our team.
“It’s always a learning process to go from one platform to another. There’s a lot of potential to unlock, but you have to understand the car and learn what it likes and doesn’t like. I’m pretty proud of how our organization continued to polish and optimize our performance in the Porsche. All of the hard work began to show at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and then here. I’m really happy to finish with our Porsche GT3 R really strong here at Petit Le Mans.”
“It was a great race for us – we finished in the top five. From start to finish, we just had a good solid race. Nic and Jon did a really great job in the car, and we had a really great strategy. The guys did a nice job on pit road. It all played out for us. There wasn’t anything majorly lucky but then again there wasn’t anything unlucky. We were able to come away with a really great finish. My time in the car was good. We had great pace and were able to pass the fourth-place guy but we were stuck a lap down, unfortunately. I felt like we had pace to be right there in second or third place. I felt like we had a really good car and had a great event. I’m proud of the progression all year.
“The yellow flags were tough. It was easy to get off sequence and find yourself caught under green and having to pit while another guy catches a yellow and doesn’t. You loose a lap quickly that way. That’s inevitably how we ended up a lap down. It’s pretty much a roll of dice. But then again, at the end, we got a yellow that we needed to make it on fuel, so it all worked out.
“The best part about the race was the last restart. I was able to pass Jeroen Bleekemolen on the restart and pull out a nice gap on Townsend Bell who was racing us for fifth place. I love doing the restarts. They’re a lot of fun, especially at night with all of the lights flashing and stuff going everywhere.”
“It’s great to be back with the team again. I joined them for all of the endurance races this year. It’s been a great run with a top team like this. I haven’t been in the car since the race at Watkins Glen, but I was able to log some consistent laps in night practice and fully settle into the car. We had a good run where we gained a lap back and got up to second, but then I got punted off in Turn 7 by a Prototype, which was completely unnecessary. I gave plenty of room for him to go by at the exit, but he must have not seen me. All in all, I feel pretty good about the run. We finished in the top five and the team finished in fourth place at the prior race. It shows that the program really came to gather and had the car working for them. I’m pleased to be a part of this group.”