Jon Bennett and Colin Braun made an exciting climb through the field to claim the Prototype Challenge victory at the Lone Star Le Mans, Round 9 of the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship. The team battled Texas-sized temperatures and humidity at Circuit of the Americas in Austin and an inoperative power-steering system to claim its second win of the season.
Starting from fourth on the grid, Bennett deftly avoided a spun Prototype car in Turn One on the start, but lost two positions in the process. He steadily climbed his way back to fourth, keeping the No. 54 Composite Resources/Flex Box ORECA FLM09 on track, while other PC competitors made mistakes and took themselves out of the race.
A full-course caution was issued before Bennett had reached his required minimum drive time, so he stayed in to do another stint, holding steady in fifth, where he handed off the car to Braun at the next pit stop. Lightning-quick work by the crew got Braun back out in fourth place.
Braun was reeling in the third-place car when a full-course caution was issued. Again, flawless work by the crew enabled him to pick up another position and move into third with the field now all bunched back together.
Shortly after the restart, Braun was into second place. Five minutes later, Braun had the lead. It might have been clear sailing from here, except that the No. 54 suddenly lost power steering. Unable to fix such an issue on pitlane, Braun had no choice but to continue on without, muscling his way through every corner for the remaining 50 minutes.
Without another full-course caution, the team’s last pit stop happened under green. Though Braun came back out on track in second, he was behind a car that had yet to pit and was conserving fuel. He pounced and re-took the lead with less than 30 minutes to go.
With ambient temperatures approaching 90F, track temperatures surpassing 106F and humidity at 70 percent, Braun used all his strength to bring the No. 54 home in first place.
The win extends CORE’s lead in the PC Team and Driver Championships to 12 points over the No. 52 PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports car driven by Tom Kimber-Smith and Mike Guasch. Only one round remains in the TUDOR Championship; the 10-hour Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta, Oct. 1 – 3.
CORE’s victory at Circuit of the Americas will re-air on FOX Sports 1, Sunday, Sept. 20, at 1:30pm ET.
“We’re really happy to get through the race today with a successful outcome. There was a lot of contact in and around me at the start and at the restart. The contact wasn’t necessarily with me, but I had to thread the needle a few times to escape it. Fortunately, I was able to hand Colin a square car.
“Colin of course, like a rabbit, went off and started doing incredible lap times. Then Murphy’s Law did get involved with the failure of our power steering, something that also happened to Colin at Mosport. Colin’s long hours at the gym paid off today. I’m really thankful for the result and the hard work of our team.”
– JON BENNETT
“We had a fast racecar. We had really good pace, good strategy and good pit stops. We just did what we’ve done in the past. These guys have done such a good job with the procedures and working on our car. We’ve had our heads down all season working away, and that hard work pays off.
“We’ve been in a lot of positions to win races this year, and it hasn’t gone our way. We were fortunate enough to make this one count. Certainly without power steering it’s not a lot of fun, but there’s never an asterisk next to your name if you finish second or third that says ‘we didn’t have power steering so that’s like a win.’ You just got to buckle down and get your job done and get as many points as you can and win the race.”
– COLIN BRAUN