DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (January 29, 2017) – In its GT Daytona class debut, CORE autosport’s Porsche 911 GT3 R ran up front for the first half of the Rolex 24 at Daytona, before retiring because of crash damage. The team made it to the halfway point of the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season-opener, before contact forced it to take the car back to the garage.
Drivers Jon Bennett, Colin Braun, Nic Jönsson and Patrick Long faced adverse conditions in each of their stints. Bennett started the car from 25th followed by Jönsson. When it was Jönsson’s turn to pass the car to Long, a light rain began to fall. The rain continued to vary in intensity, which made tire choice a tricky decision.
As the sun went down, temperatures dropped and the rain held steady. Drivers likened the Daytona International Raceway circuit to an ice skating rink, even on wet tires. Despite this, the No. 54 Porsche 911 GT3 R led a total of 22 laps in the highly competitive and 27-car strong GTD field.
Almost precisely at the halfway mark, Jönsson was hit from behind entering the Bus Stop. This sent him spinning into the wall. The Porsche sustained heavy damage to both the front and rear of the car. Upon closer inspection in the garage, it was determined the car would be unable to continue. Fortunately, Jönsson was able to walk away from the incident unharmed.
The early exit was disappointing for CORE, but nonetheless, the team was buoyed by their performance as rookies in the GTD class. CORE now looks forward to the 12 Hours of Sebring, March 16 – 18, in Sebring, Florida.
“It was wonderful to start our first race with the Porsche 911 GT3 R. Our qualifying wasn’t the greatest, but we had a good place to start the race in terms of being able to see what was going on. We took a conservative approach at the start. Then once things started to settle down after a lap or two, we started chipping away. I ultimately got to a really good pace for myself after the start and kept the car basically on the lead lap. Nic, Pat and Colin did a great job moving us up in the order, in addition to some great strategy by the team. In short order, we were near the top of the list. In fact, when the sun fell, Colin had our car in the lead in our first race and we held that lead for quite a long time.
“It just wasn’t meant to be. The rain was quite challenging. The car was new to all of us and it was a bit tricky drive. The conditions were some of the most difficult I’ve seen, especially when Nic took the car after my stint. We were struggling to find balance, but Nic did a great job. In the middle of the night, Nic unfortunately was hit from behind and there was nothing that he could do. He was just a victim of circumstances. We have a bit of a broken racecar, but it’ll get mended up quickly. My hat’s off to the crew for their hard work. We’ll be back strong for Sebring.”
“It was really treacherous for a big portion of our race out there. Nic did a great job in the car, but unfortunately, he got collected by someone. Nic and Jon both did a great job, and we led some laps and stuck to our plan there.
“There was so much mist in the air and everything was so cold. At night, it’s really tough to get the temperature in the tire. I’ve done this 13 years now, and it seems there’s always more heartbreak than there is time on the podium. Now we’ll go on to Sebring and I know that we have a fast car and are capable of running with these guys.”
“We had a very well-balanced car. The CORE guys gave us a really great car along with Porsche. I hadn’t driven the car a lot, so we decided to get going with it and get a good handle on it. We had a good pace and advanced to the lead at one point. The rain made the conditions very difficult, but Colin led for a while and Jon did a great job out there. When I got back in, I just carried on in the same style. We were one of the top three cars out there speed-wise.
“In my second stint, I got held up by another GTD car in Turn Six, so I had to check up, but then another car got a good run on me and then a Prototype approached fast from the back. The spotter alerted me, but the next thing I knew, I just got hit really, really hard from behind, right into the wall, several times. It was unfortunate; we had such a great car. A big thanks to Porsche Motorsport North America and CORE for all of their hard work.”
“I ran in mixed conditions – cold weather, rain and dark. That is the sort of trifecta of difficulty for a driver. The team did a great job giving me a versatile setup and keeping me calm. I enjoyed being with these guys. It’s a shame that we’re out early, but they’ll fight back. I look forward to following them the whole season.
“Every time I run with CORE autosport, it’s everything you could ever ask for. You have everything at your disposal so that you can put forth the best effort.”