Jon Bennett qualified the No. 54 Composite Resources/Flex Box ORECA FLM09 fourth on the Prototype Challenge grid for Sunday’s Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix Powered by Mazda, part of the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship.
Bennett was quick throughout the session and jumped to provisional pole on his third flying lap. The rest of the PC qualifiers began to pick up the pace and Bennett hung in the top three for three more laps. Despite turning his quickest time of 1:23.165 (96.877 mph) late in the session, Bennett was bumped to fourth on the grid when the checkered flag dropped.
New in 2015, IMSA regulations require the qualifying driver to start the car for the race. Most PC teams—CORE included—elected to qualify with their bronze-ranked driver. Bennett qualified and will therefore start Sunday’s race. It was Bennett’s first time qualifying the car this season and only his third TUDOR qualifying session.
Bennett teams with co-driver Colin Braun to battle the grueling elevation changes of the 2.238 miles, 11-turn road course. Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca is best known for its famed corkscrew, which drops a total 109 feet, or just over 10 stories from Turn 8 to Turn 9.
The duo earned its first win together as co-drivers at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in 2012 driving in the American Le Mans Series.
The green flag for the Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix Powered by Mazda drops at 4:05 pm (ET) Sunday. The race is televised live starting at 4 pm (ET) on FOX Sports 1. Live timing and scoring are also available on IMSA.com and on the new IMSA mobile app.
“It’s a nice change to get a chance to qualify the car. It was a little bit of added pressure, but overall I think I did a pretty good job. The team did a great job with the car. As the season progresses, I think it’ll become more of a natural part of the weekend.
“I’m excited to start the car tomorrow. Starting the race is something Colin and I worked out, and it’s worked with good success for us so far. In the longer races it makes more sense for Colin to start. As the balance of the season goes, I look forward to all the starts because they’re never the same and always interesting.”
– Jon Bennett