CORE autosport wins Long Beach for second consecutive year
LONG BEACH, Ca., Saturday, April 14, 2012: CORE autosport continued its winning ways in the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) with a decisive win on the streets of Long Beach. The #06 Soloson Import ORECA FLM09 of Alex Popow and Ryan Dalziel finished first in the Le Mans Prototype Challenge (LMPC) class (third overall) in Saturday’s Tequila Patrón American Le Mans Series at Long Beach after starting on the pole.
This is the second win for the #06 in 2012 out of two ALMS rounds this season, with the first at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring in March. It was also the second year in a row that the team won the pole and the race on the 11-turn, 1.968-mile temporary street circuit.
The sister #05 Composite Resources machine, driven by team founder Jon Bennett and Colin Braun, finished in the third position (fifth overall) after starting in the same spot.
Typical southern California sunshine greeted the Rock Hill, SC-based CORE autosport team on Saturday, welcome after Friday’s deluge which wreaked havoc on the ALMS field for the sole practice session and caused qualifying to be cancelled.
The #06 car began the two-hour event with Popow behind the wheel. The Venezuelan driver – a very experienced racer but an ALMS rookie - had only turned a handful of wet laps at the course and had never raced at Long Beach prior. Starting off in the LMPC pole position (8th overall), Popow immediately gunned for the front, ricocheting off of two “faster” LMP2 cars on the first lap but holding onto the first spot until about 50 minutes into the race when he dropped to second spot after contact with a slower GT car.
Popow turned the car over to Dalziel at the 56 minute mark during a full-course caution period, and fast work by the CORE autosport team allowed the #06 to return to the first spot once again. When the green flag flew with 54 minutes to go, Dalziel was fast while saving fuel, pulling out a decisive lead over the second place car - to more than 20 seconds by the time the checkered flag was waved.
This was a special victory for Scotland native Dalziel, as he not only celebrated his 30th birthday this race weekend, but also his 10th year of racing in North America.
For the #05 machine, team founder Bennett was caught in the first-lap melee and within the first minute had lost two spots in the LMPC class, and more than five in the overall standings. For the next 55 minutes Bennett steadily worked his way through GT traffic, returning the car to the third position. Braun was able to take over the boss’ machine and hold onto the spot while dispatching all lower-class traffic, bringing the car home safety and rounding out the LMPC podium.
Next for the CORE autosport team is the third round of ALMS competition, at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey, Ca. The six-hour American Le Mans Series Monterey Presented by Patrón takes place on Saturday, May 12, with the first practice session on Thursday, May 10th.
"I’m thrilled with the result this weekend - two back-to-back double podiums in two races for CORE autosport is fantastic.
“The team did great job and so did my co-driver Colin.
"It’s never easy to run a race without any real practice, but team manager Morgan Brady, our engineers and the crew made it work and allow us to run as hard and fast as we can.
“All of the #05 crew are ready to start moving up to the top-spot on the podium, but we’re all very satisfied with today’s result.”
“Today turned out well and it was a lot of fun.
“Jon did a great job in his stint and it was a challenge to take over the car in the middle of such an intense race and get after it, but the crew and Jon all gave me a good car and a good situation.
“Overall it was a tough weekend without any real dry track time – the whole field had to go from nothing to the race.
“Our podium finish puts us in a good position to win a championship and what’s that we’re all about this year.
"We know what we need to do and these type of finishes will allow us to do just that.”
“The beginning of the race was a little stressful for me as it was my first time racing at Long Beach and my first laps in the dry.
“I knew I was going to have to fight from the beginning, even though I was starting on the pole So I was confident and aggressive. In the first turn of the first lap I got caught between two LMP2 cars and they made me a sandwich – one hit me on one side and the other hit me on the other side, but I was able to pass both.
“I was able to hold onto first spot, but second-place car was catching up and I was being held up by a GT car that was blocking me. I was also trying to save fuel. It was tough and I had some contact with that GT car and lost first spot.
“The CORE autosport team did an awesome job in the pits and we rook first spot. Ryan did a great job keeping the car in the lead and we won the race. Two wins in a row is a great start for my first season in the ALMS and I cannot wait to win more!”
“What a great day – Long Beach means so much to me and to get a win to celebrate my 10-year anniversary is just great.
“I had been bugging Alex and CORE for the last few weeks to allow me to rejoin the team to race with them at Long Beach. I have known Alex for a few years, I’ve driven with him as a teammate for some of that time and I wanted to help Alex extend his championship lead with another win.
“The performance that Alex put on today – to never have seen this place before Friday and to hold off guys who have raced here for so many years – that’s the performance that won the race.
“The pit stop was extremely fast and we were able to save fuel. I had a lot of fun and I hope to return to CORE autosport at some point soon to win more races with Alex.”