ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (Aug. 29, 2016) – CORE autosport scored its second podium finish in only its fourth Red Bull Global Rallycross Lites event. Near the bustling boardwalk of Atlantic City, Colin Braun took the GRC Lites checkered flag in third place.
Each GRC course presents its own unique challenge. At Atlantic City, that challenge was a dirt section that quickly became rutted and bumpy. This caused the race line to change constantly as drivers aimed to avoid the largest potholes.
Jon Bennett in the No. 54 CORE autosport/ORECA/Sonic Tools GRC Lites and Braun in the No. 56 CORE autosport/ORECA/Sonic Tools/GRC Lites both showed strong pace in the opening practice sessions before qualifying third (Braun) and 10th (Bennett).
Braun was unable to convert his third-place qualifying position into a heat race win. In the first heat, he got squeezed out on the start by two cars and finished fourth. In the second heat race, Braun had to battle a loss of power-steering and ended up finishing fourth again. That placed Braun in the Last Chance Qualifier along with Bennett who finished fifth and sixth in the heat races.
Starting first in the LCQ, Braun led the way for all four laps to take the win. Bennett, looked like he had fourth-place locked up and would advance to the final as well, but an overly optimistic move by a competitor left Bennett with a flat tire on the last lap. He was able to bring it home in sixth, but did not advance to the final as a result.
Braun had a spectacular start in the final, going from seventh on the grid to fourth exiting Turn One. He timed the Joker Lap perfectly, which put him in position to pass Miki Weckstrom for third. He held down the podium spot all the way to the finish, despite getting his rear bumper caught on one of the dirt section’s potholes and losing half of it.
It is the second GRC Lites podium finish for CORE autosport in its rookie season. Braun finished third in the team’s GRC debut at Daytona International Speedway in June.
The GRC Lites race at Atlantic City will air on NBC Sports Network on Thursday, September 1, at 5:30pm ET.
“Colin did great all weekend. He was very competitive, but sometimes there are circumstances that will ruin a session from time to time. Colin always had great pace, but had some unfortunate things happen in the heats. He definitely belongs on the podium, as does our team, which is getting better at solving the interesting problems that come up on these GRC weekends.
“I was having a really good race in the LCQ, but some of the young, inexperienced drivers can get a bit reckless and you become the victim of their mistake. That’s what happened to me in the LCQ. I was P4 and then got hit by another car, which caused one of my tires to go flat. There’s not much you can do in that situation. When you’re turning the happy way, the car still turns pretty good, but when you’re turning the flat tire way, it’s terrible!
“Overall, I had a good, aggressive race weekend that was made easier thanks to our new Scoot-E-Bikes™ getting us around. I feel like I’m making good progress in my rallycross skill set. I think, just like Colin, my pace is getting faster and ultimately the results will get better.”
– Jon Bennett
“We had really good pace in the practice sessions and qualifying, but I had a rough couple of heats. In the first heat I got jammed between two cars and we had an alternator fail in the second heat so subsequently the power steering shut off. I struggled through the second heat with no power steering. The guys fixed it back ups, so in the LCQ we started on the pole and controlled the race from up front.
“Winning the LCQ isn’t anything to write home about, but we did beat the championship leader whose won a couple races this year, so to beat him outright was a good moment for us.
“We started inside row three for the final. I got a good launch and dove into Turn One and made up some good spots. I was up to fourth on the exit of the first corner. I Jokered at a good time and then made a pass on Miki Weckstrom for third a couple laps into the race. We had a little bit of a gap from second back to me, but didn’t have enough laps to catch him. Certainly, we were running him down though. All things considered, we were happy with the weekend.”
– Colin Braun