ROCK HILL, SC, Thursday, July 5, 2012: CORE autosport may have won the opening three rounds of the 2012 American Le Mans Series (ALMS) in the Prototype Challenge (PC) class, but this weekend the members of the South Carolina-based organization know they cannot put a wheel wrong at the shortest venue on the ALMS schedule – Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, Connecticut.
Lime Rock Park is a challenging seven-turn, 1.47-mile road course, renowned for its short, high-speed layout. The track can wreak havoc for all five ALMS classes, especially the PC class, which is not as fast as the P1 or P2 prototypes, but faster than the GT and GTC cars. Qualifying for the two hour and 45 minute race will be crucial for all competitors, as track position at the beginning of the race can determine who survives the first lap – and with more than 30 cars in five classes, the probability for difficulties can be high.
Drivers Bennett and Braun in the #05 Composite Resources ORECA FLM09, and Popow and Kimber-Smith in the sister #06 Soloson Import machine, are prepared for the challenge.
Bennett and Braun are still on a high after winning their first race in the ALMS at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in May, and they are ready to add another win at Lime Rock. In the last six weeks, Braun spent time behind the wheel of a NASCAR stock car and truck, as well as driving a few GRAND-AM Rolex Series events for Starworks Motorsport. Bennett continued a strict fitness regimen, spent hours on the simulator and in karts, and was able to visit this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans with Team Manager Morgan Brady.
Kimber-Smith comes to Lime Rock as a 2012 24 Hours of Le Mans champion, finishing first in the P2 class with Starworks’ World Endurance Challenge (WEC) effort at the fabled event. This is Kimber-Smith’s third Le Mans class win in four attempts and his second in a row, having been on the top spot on the podium in 2011, as well as in 2006. Kimber-Smith has driven with CORE once prior – at the May Laguna Seca round, where he was nearly a lap up on the field before caution periods bunched up the field and his lead was lost.
Popow is currently in the lead for the ALMS PC-class driver’s championship and makes it a priority to drive nearly every week, whether it’s in the U.S. or his home in Venezuela. He has been spending time behind the wheel in GRAND-AM, driving for Starworks in the Rolex Series as well as driving in the Continental Tire Series.
"I’m very pleased with the performance of CORE autosport so far this season. It indicates the hard work of team manager Morgan Brady and all of the technicians on the team.
“I’m looking forward to going back to Lime Rock. In a way it’s a home track for me – when I was a youngster I lived in Connecticut and spent a lot of time watching races there.
“It’s always fun to get back to Connecticut, and Lime Rock is really a beautiful place and there’s always a lot of great interaction with fans and a real buzz in the air.
“It is, though, a tough track. My first time racing there in ALMS was last year and we finished fifth, and with the way things are going with the team – the #05 car getting two third places and winning at Laguna Seca – there is a bit of pressure to perform, but I think that Colin and I are up for the challenge.”
“The last time I drove Lime Rock was when I was 15 years old in a Star Mazda race car. That was awhile back, but I remember loving the place – lots of bumps and fast corners. I’m really looking forward to getting back there.
“Because it’s such a small track it’s going to be very busy with traffic, especially at the high speeds we will be running. The GT-class cars will be tough to get around, but it’s the same for everyone.
“Although I’ve been racing almost every weekend since Laguna Seca in May, I’m really looking forward to driving with CORE autosport. It’s a great team, I get along with everyone and really enjoy the #05 PC car. It was such a long break it felt like we went through Thanksgiving and Christmas, and I cannot wait to catch up with everyone on the team and in the paddock.
“This weekend Jon and I will go in with confidence, we’ll work together and be fast and hopefully our efforts will pay off.”
“Since the last race at Laguna Seca I’ve been doing a lot of other racing in GRAND-AM, but I’ve really be waiting for Lime Rock and to try to keep the lead in the ALMS PC Championship.
“I really haven’t been to the track too often. Last year I tried to drive a race there. I did a few laps of practice, started the race and got taken out by my teammate on the first lap!
“So this weekend will be like going to Lime Rock for the first time, again. It’s a very challenging place, with lots of ups and downs. You really have to know what you’re doing as a driver because you’re moving very quickly, so mistakes can be tough to recover from, if you can recover from them.
“I drove with Tom (Kimber-Smith) at Laguna Seca, and he’s a very fast and solid driver. He’s going to be a great teammate this weekend to go for the win and keep a good points lead.”
“I’m excited to rejoin CORE autosport and Alex at Lime Rock. I’ve never been to the track before, but I’m looking forward to the experience, especially as it’s a big holiday weekend in the U.S. I’m looking forward to seeing some fireworks!
“Winning Le Mans again was an amazing experience and I was thrilled to help out the Starworks guys on short notice. My aim now is to get my first ALMS win and help Alex with his championship assault.
“Alex and I made a great combination at Laguna Seca and I think that we have a little unfinished business together – we need to get that top podium spot!”
Source: CORE autosport