Perfect start to 2014 for CORE autosport

"It’s a great way to start the season" - Jon Bennett

Q&A with CORE autosport owner and driver Jon Bennett

Q: Has it sunk in yet that both the CORE autosport PC program and the Porsche North America program have won the two biggest sportscar races in North America? What does that feel like? JB: It’s beginning to sink in. It’s a great way to start the season. Sebring was the first big race I’d ever been in, back in 2011. I was amazed to get on the podium. Once you’ve made it to the podium, you get your eye open to the top step of the podium. In 2012, we finished third and last year we realized it’s easy to lose control of a long race like that. I was very happy that we won Sebring this year, in some ways more than Daytona, because I don’t have any history with Daytona. Sebring was always one I’d hoped to win. {{1674804 It was mind-blowing, as we had 25 minutes to go, to realize that the sister team with the Porsches were in a position to win as well. I just couldn’t believe that the situation was happening again. I’m very pleased for both sides of the company. It’s almost a weakness coming into the next race because then it’s all about ‘the next win in-a-row’ etc., and I don’t want it to pull us away from our strategy of working our way through the process of a weekend.

When you're at the track, do you try to stay updated on how both programs are doing, or do you keep your focus on PC? When I’m working over on the PC side, I’m focused on the PC side. But during a long race like Sebring, when I get out of the car and I know I won’t be back in for four hours, I enjoy watching the process on the Porsche side and seeing how their progress is going. As my time to drive comes again, I get pretty focused on the prototype side. I go back and forth, but never at the same time.

Everyone at CORE says they are constantly looking for ways to improve—with three-consecutive PC team championships and back-to-back wins in 2014, what's left to improve on?
I don’t think any event ever goes perfectly for us. I’ve been quiet amazed with the amount of critique we gave ourselves post-Sebring. We seem to be pretty hard on ourselves and want to improve for Laguna. I think it’s healthy as long as it doesn’t become personal. Everyone strives for doing better. I think that’s always a good thing if it’s managed well.

Will you and Colin be playing it conservative now in a plan to hold your championship lead to the end of the season?
I don’t think so. That’s definitely not in Colin’s DNA! We both come to every race to win, but we’re both smart. We know when it’s time to take big risks and when it’s not time to take risks. We’ll manage each race like we always have in terms of managing risk, but we race to win and that’ll be our goal through the season. To be honest, the more we win, the more risks there are to weigh.

How do you think you've grown as a driver since your Prototype Challenge debut in 2011?
In 2011, I was on track with some of the best drivers in the world. My first goal was to do no harm. I didn’t want to be the guy that would stand out as someone without enough experience. My first race was about blending in. That’s changed a bit. I’m more professional and more comfortable and confident in the car in high-pressure situations. Colin’s been a big help to me, not only with my driving, but with how to conduct myself and manage my time in a weekend. My driving skills have developed over the years, but Colin has helped me focus on the right way to manage my time and doing more preparation even before I pack—on the fitness side, the simulator side, the karting side and simply studying notes before I go. It’s definitely more of a professional approach, which is added to the experience I have since I started driving in 2005.

What have you done with those two guitars you've won from the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup?
I found out that my son Austin is learning to play guitar. So he is learning to play guitar on the Paul Reed Smith S2 that we won at the Rolex 24. It’s actually getting used! He was pretty tickled to get to learn to play on that particular guitar.

PC doesn't race at Long Beach, but will you be in attendance? If so, will it be a relief to be watching from pit lane or will you be envious?
I will be there. I’m looking forward to the race and getting to spend more time with my contacts at Porsche, getting to immerse myself in that team and having more focused conversations. So often my mind is torn between the two programs, so I’m eager to enjoy Long Beach as a part of the team and not as part spectator/part participant. I’m hoping I have enough maturity to not be envious that I’m looking through the fence and not driving.

CORE autosport

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About this article
Series IMSA
Drivers Jon Bennett
Teams CORE autosport
Article type Interview
Tags core autosport, jon bennett, sebring