WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (July 1, 2018) – CORE autosport made some bold strategy calls in the Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen, which led them from the pole position, to the back of the grid and right back to the front of the field once more. Had it not been for a late-race yellow, CORE might have earned it’s first IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Prototype victory, but instead it was a runner-up finish at Watkins Glen.
Colin Braun earned the Motul Pole Award in qualifying, but the team made a strategic decision to have Jon Bennett start the race and get his required drive time in before temperatures skyrocketed. The change in starting driver meant the team would have to start from the back of the Prototype field.
Bennett performed flawlessly in his opening stints. First he narrowly avoided an opening lap crash between two Prototypes, then he proceeded to keep the No. 54 Composite Resources / Flex-Box ORECA 07 LM P2 out of trouble and on the lead lap.
Bennett handed the car over to Romain Dumas, who spun after contact with a GTD car shortly after taking to the track. The spin allowed the leaders to pass Dumas, but the Frenchman charged back and past the leaders to put himself back on the lead lap and into the top 10 before it was time for Colin Braun to get in the car.
Despite temperatures exceeding 90 degrees, Braun put in an extended stint of two hours and seven minutes straight. While Braun was in the car, contact with another Prototype necessitated a nose change during one of the pit stops. Even with this small setback, Braun was able to claw his way to the lead and extend a 23-second gap over second place.
A full-course caution eliminated Braun’s lead when the team needed it most. Working on an alternate fuel strategy from the leaders, the team needed the gap to ensure they’d be at the front with the fuel to finish the race when the rest of leaders made their final pit stops.
Under yellow, Braun pitted and passed the car to Dumas. When the race restarted with 36 minutes to go, Dumas put in a miraculous closing stint that saw him go from eighth to second at the checkered flag. He was only two seconds shy of the race winner.
The runner-up finish is CORE’s best Prototype class result to date after finishing third in the Rolex 24 at Daytona.
There is little turnaround time for the crew and drivers as IMSA heads across the border to Canada next week. The Mobil 1 SportsCar Grand Prix takes place July 6 – 8 at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.
Driver: No. 54 ORECA 07 LM P2
“It’s been a great day and I’m so happy to be able to share the car with Colin and Romain and be supported by this incredible team. It was a David versus Goliath effort today. I’m impressed with our attention to detail and our focus and never-ending optimism.
“Colin did a lot of hard work today and Romain’s final stint put the cherry on top. I couldn’t be more proud.”
Driver: ORECA 07 LM P2
“I was in the grove and clicking off some fast laps. I just wanted to let the guys know that I didn’t need to get out if they preferred me not to. That opened up the strategy a bit.
“Jon and Romain did a fantastic. We led for a bit and had we not had that yellow while leading, I think we would have been in the catbird seat to get the win. On one hand I’m bummed not to get the win, but on the other hand I’m pumped to finish second.
“The car was fast. We had a really good setup. This track has been good to us in the PC days and GTD days. I’m not overly surprised that we were fast here, it’s been one of our better tracks as a team.”
Driver: ORECA 07 LM P2
“It was a crazy race. It all went according to plan. Jon started and didn’t lose any laps. He did a perfect job. It was all running very well. Jeff [Braun] made a good call and we undercut all the other cars in the pits and came back to the front. Unfortunately, the last yellow killed our race. We should have won, but we did not.”