After a strong start, CORE autosport was unable to complete all six hours of the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race at Watkins Glen International. A mechanical issue brought the team’s Prototype Challenge entry out of contention with less than two hours to go in the Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen.
Starting from sixth, Jon Bennett emerged from the opening race mayhem in a strong position to begin his battle for the lead. The cards appeared stacked in his favor when the No. 20 BAR1 Motorsports car was involved in a collision and the No. 52 PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports car had a long pit stop for repairs, which enabled him to pick up two spots. His blessings continued when the team took advantage of the first full-course caution to perform its initial pit stop. A strong stop from the team put Bennett in second and he battled in the top three for the remainder of his stint. He took over the top spot just before handing the car over to co-driver Mark Wilkins.
Another quick and clean stop put Wilkins back on track in third, but he was knocked to fourth after serving a drive-thru penalty for Bennett’s speed at the pit entrance. He made quick work to recover positions and had the car up to second in short order. As his stint continued, the car’s suspension malfunctioned and caused the front right tire to detach from the car. Wilkins skillfully maneuvered to the pits under his own power and the team set to work repairing the issue. He was back on track in fifth just 10 minutes later, but four laps down to the PC leader. Wilkins held his position through the remainder of his stint and used the second full-course caution of the race for the final driver change to Colin Braun.
Upon returning to the circuit, Braun could tell that the car had sustained additional damage from the earlier suspension failure. Unable make the fix within the remaining one hour and 40 minutes, the team elected to retire the car so it could began the repair process and have the No. 54 ready for next week’s race at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. CORE was classified sixth in class on the final results.
The team is already hard at work to get the No. 54 prepped for The Mobil 1 Sportscar Grand Prix, coming up July 7 – 10.
“Luckily for me, we had a really well-engineered and well-tuned car for the start of the race. I had my first pit stop at max attack, and I picked my battles carefully throughout my stint. Our Engineer Jeff Braun also came up with a good strategy move to conserve fuel and eliminate a pit stop.
“I handed the car off to Mark and that’s when the mechanical gremlins started to creep in. Mark did a great job in the car as did Colin. But from just about two-and a-half hours in, the gremlins just continued with something first in the front of the car and then something in the back. Racing goes that way sometimes. We’ll regroup and put on a good effort at Mosport next weekend.”
– JON BENNETT
“It was a disappointing end to our day. I’m not really sure what happened. Jon and Mark both did really good in the car, and we had strong pit stops. We had what I think was the fastest car all weekend.
“When I got in, the car was really inconsistent in the corners with really bad pulling. We obviously had some sort of mechanical issue, and we decided to retire to the paddock so we could figure it out and get it right for Mosport next weekend.”
– COLIN BRAUN
“Jon did a great job in the car, so when I went out, I didn’t really have a ton of work to do other than turn good, consistent laps. We were pretty happy with the pace. With the nature of the track and the high speeds, you loose a little grip in traffic, so I was battling through that, but the CORE guys gave me a great car.
“I started to experience some unusual handling with the car and then the tire came loose on the back straightaway before the bus stop. I was able to bring it in without much more damage and the guys made quick work to get the car back on track. I was able to complete my stint without any other major issues before handing it off to Colin. It was ultimately a tough day and the guys are working to sort it for Mosport next weekend. I look forward to being back in the car in the fall.”
– MARK WILKINS