Fourth in PC, fifth in GT
ELKHART LAKE, Wis. (Aug. 11, 2013) – CORE autosport earned a pair of top-five finishes at Road America in a race that started in the rain and ended with two different gambles on fuel strategy. Jon Bennett and Colin Braun brought the No. 05 ORECA FLM09 home in fourth, while Patrick Long and Tom Kimber-Smith finished fifth in the No. 06 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR.
The Orion Energy Systems 245, Round Six of the American Le Mans Series, commenced under wet conditions thanks to a light rain that began approximately three hours before the green flag waved. Starting from the Prototype Challenge pole, the tricky conditions caught Bennett out on the opening lap when he spun into the grass exiting Turn Three. He quickly recovered and set about catching the rest of the field.
Bennett needed to make up lost ground quickly, prompting the team to switch to slick tires earlier than most of its PC competition on the drying track. This gamble paid of quickly, as Bennett’s lap times on slick tires were three seconds quicker than cars still circulating on wets. That enabled Bennett to hand the car off to Braun in third place during a full-course caution.
Off sequence on pit stops with the rest of the PC field thanks to the early stop for slick tires, Braun needed to refuel with approximately 35 minutes remaining in the race. Though this dropped Braun to fifth, the team anticipated the rest of the PC field would also need to stop for fuel before the race’s end. Unfortunately, a full-course caution with less than 10 minutes remaining allowed the PC competition to coast to the checkered flag on fumes. The race finished under yellow with Braun in fourth.
CORE maintains its PC Team Championship point lead exiting Road America, as does Braun in the PC Drivers’ Championship.
In GT, Kimber-Smith had his hands full with the No. 06 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR at the start, this being his first rain race in a Porsche. The Englishman had hoped to follow the rest of the GT field’s lead on the rain line, but got separated from the group and was forced to learn everything on his own.
Shortly after the PC car took on slick tires, Kimber-Smith came in for the same change and traded driving duties with Long, who took over the car in 10th.
Quick pit work by the CORE autosport crew and the veteran experience of Long worked in tandem to bring the car past both of the factory BMWs and the Risi Ferrari to fifth. Once there, the team entered a fuel conservation strategy, hoping to make it to the checkered flag without another stop. The GT cars ahead were also hoping to make it the distance, leaving everyone in the CORE pits wondering if another car might fall out before the checkered flag and if a podium might be in the wings.
Alas, the final full-course caution sealed the GT fields’ fate and ended the race to conserve fuel. Long crossed the finish line fifth.
CORE autosport and the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón next head to Baltimore, Md., for Round Seven, Aug. 30 - 31. The Grand Prix of Baltimore presented by SRT goes green at 3:45 p.m. ET and will air Sunday, Sept. 1, at Noon on ABC.
In addition to his PC duties, Bennett raced in the IMSA Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge presented by Yokohama doubleheader at Road America. Driving the No. 54 Porsche 911 GT3 Cup, he earned a 15th and 12th-place finish.
Driver: No. 05 ORECA FLM09
“It was wet and very rainy and I was trying to get with the program as quick as I could. I just grabbed a little too much throttle and paid the price in Turn Three. I got it figured out and pointed back in the right direction and from that point forward I was tiptoeing through the wet.
“I realized the track was drying pretty quickly and I talked to the team and we decided to switch to slick tires early and it really worked in our favor.
“I handed the car over to Colin and we were in pretty good shape in P3. Colin quickly put the car in the lead and we unfortunately got out of sequence with our pit stops at the end of the race and a late-race yellow erased our advantage and allowed our competitors to limp in on fumes and keep us off the podium. You can’t win them all, so we look forward to Baltimore.”
Driver: No. 05 ORECA FLM09
“We got crashed into by a car that was a lap down in Turn Five. It spun us out, but it really wasn’t a big deal, we got back to the lead again on the next restart and set sail.
“I wasn’t really aware of what our pit strategy was, I was just out there driving as hard as I could. We were really fast, had really good pace and good stops, but some days just aren’t your day.”
Driver: No. 06 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR
“We had a green flag stop, so I just put my head down and hoped for a yellow because we were pretty far behind. Once we got a yellow, the guys put in a great pit stop. The car was really balanced and we were able to fight past both BMWs and the Ferrari. It was tight racing; we were battling with the No. 48 and keeping the Corvettes honest. The Vipers had a measure on everybody today. It’s solid to get a top-five on a day that started out pretty rough. It was an ambitious fight from everybody.
“Traffic was really tough today; the Dyson car got in between the GT battle for awhile, the GTC guys were having a big fight and we had to respect their battle and get through them quickly, so it was a knock-down brawl at the end of that stint. We drove 110 percent for 45 minutes. It was very physically and mentally exhausting.”
Driver: No. 06 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR
"The conditions weren’t too bad, but that was my first-ever go at Road America in the wet and in a Porsche in the wet, so I found it fairly difficult to adapt to the situation. I had a decent start, but got held up in Turn Three and lost the lead pack. By then, it was a matter of finding everything on my own, but if I had been with the pack, I would have been able to learn from other people.
"After the first stop, the track really started to dry up and we were still on wets, so the tires burnt up really quick and it was a matter of survival after that.
"We had a good recovery though. The guys did a great job on pit stops, we beat several other teams out of the pits. As a team I think we’re really improving and I’m looking forward to the next race."