CORE Makes It Two Wins In A Row at Road America

#54 wins on fuel economy run
#54 wins on fuel economy run

CORE autosport came out on top in a battle of fuel saving at the Continental Tire Road Race Showcase at Road America. It is the second-straight IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship win from the back of the field for CORE and third-straight podium appearance.

Employing the same strategy as it did at Watkins Glen and Canadian Tire Motorsports Park, CORE opted to swap starting drivers for the race, putting Jon Bennett at the wheel in lieu of Colin Braun who qualified third. This change meant the No. 54 Composite Resources / Flex-Box ORECA 07 LM P2 started from the back of the Prototype field.

Bennett was once again flawless in his opening stint. Staying clear of on-track skirmishes and hitting the lap time target given to him by race engineers on the timing stand. He completed his required 30 minutes before bringing the car onto pitlane and handing it over to Braun.

This first pit stop was timed perfectly; a full-course yellow was issued just as the car completed its stop. When the rest of the Prototype field pitted under yellow, Braun cycled to second.

[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"]An ill-timed yellow looked like it might ruin the team’s pit strategy mid-way through the race, but with 30 minutes to go, the Prototype field was split into two different groups: those who needed to make one more stop and those who could fuel-save to the end. The No. 54 fell into the latter category.

With 10 minutes left on the clock, the race came down to three cars: the No. 55 Mazda, CORE autosport and the No. 99 ORECA.

Braun was in drastic fuel-save mode when the No. 55 Mazda came onto pit lane. Only two laps stood between Braun and the checkered flag, but he couldn’t give away too much because second and third-place were still charging. In dramatic fashion, Braun took the checkered flag running on fumes and was out of fuel a few turns later on the cool down lap.

Braun took the No. 54 Oreca 07 Gibson to a narrow 2.389-second win over the No. 99 JDC-Miller Motorsports Oreca of Stephen Simpson, with both LMP2-spec cars stretching their mileage in ninth round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

Strategy would fall the way of CORE and Braun who saw the #10 Wayne Taylor Racing Cadillac DPI-V.R, and the #55 Mazda Team Joest DPi dive for splash and dash pitstops in the final minutes the race, after both cars at times looked poised to take the win. Braun was easy enough on the gas to secure the win, running out of fuel on the cool down lap.

Bennett speaking after the race was full of praise for his teammate, “Colin is the hero today, driving fast and saving fuel… it was a very, very, thin win today but I’m super excited for the team today."

Just behind the #54 CORE autosport ORECA was the #99 JDC-Miller Motorsports ORECA 07, making it a 1-2 for the French LMP2 chassis manufacturer. Stephen Simpson coasted across the line at the end of a fuel save run, like Braun. That car beat out the #31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac of Felipe Nasr and Eric Curran to the line by just eight thousandths of a second.

Jordan Taylor would bring home the #10 Cadillac DPi after their late splash and dash in fourth place in class after Rengar Van Der Zande started the car. Taylor, as well as the sixth place finishing Dane Cameron in the #6 Acura Team Penske Acura ARX-05 DPi, were the highest placed Prototype cars who made four stops.

Jon Bennett

Bennett and Braun
Bennett and Braun

Driver: No. 54 ORECA 07 LM P2
“Colin was magic in the car. This time fast while being able to save fuel. I had an excellent run on the Continental Tires that have been good to us all weekend. At some point you need to separate yourself from the pack and we made a strategy call mid-race to play the fuel save game. It was interesting to watch it play out on the pit stand with our race engineer Jeff Braun and data engineer Tyler Neff calling out the fuel numbers lap by lap.

“It was an incredible team effort; back-to-back wins in this competitive environment and with these teams are a monumental achievement. It’s been three very well executed races for us. I’m proud to race against the best in the business."

Colin Braun
Driver: No. 54 ORECA 07 LM P2
“This was a great result for the CORE autosport team. I’m super proud. Jon did a great job in his starting stint. We had excellent pit stops and some amazing strategy calls. When I jumped in the car we had a great call that got me to second. I faded a bit toward the end on old tires so we decided to switch our strategy to a fuel-saving one. The team was giving me fuel numbers to hit as best as I could while keeping pace. We had to find a way to win. We showed at Mosport we had a lot of speed and I think here we showed the ability to save fuel and be smart in a different way. It was a total team effort."

Ford GT wins GTLM fuel economy run

Westbrook and Briscoe win in GTLM
Westbrook and Briscoe win in GTLM

In GT Le Mans it was another thrilling race but for the fourth time in a row it was a Ford GT that topped the podium, this time the #67 Ford with Ryan Briscoe and Richard Westbrook — who with this win now take the championship lead.

“It was a great drive by Rick [Westbrook], he was flawless!" Said Briscoe. “Awesome job by everyone, I’m super proud of the whole Chip Ganassi Ford team."

Westbrook stretched his tank 1 hour and 4 minutes but let overall winner Colin Braun through as he was coming to the checkered flag, ensuring not to make an additional lap.

The 2-hour, 40-min. race looked promising from the start. Driver Dirk Muller earned his third-consecutive pole during qualifying Saturday in the No. 66 Ford GT. Teammate Ryan Briscoe qualified second in the No. 67 for an all-Ford front row at the green flag. Then the trouble began.

For the No. 66 car, leader in the championship points entering the race, bad luck came in the form of an issue with the right rear toe link that forced Müller to pit off-sequence for repairs. By that time, the No. 67 had already suffered damage to the left rear following a collision with a GTD car.

In spite of the damage from that collision and two that followed, the No. 67 couldn’t be stopped and driver Richard Westbrook was in perfect position at the end for the win. The No. 66 finished seventh.

“It’s just an incredible run we’re having right now," Westbrook said. “Confidence is so high. The wins aren’t coming easy by any stretch of the imagination. We’re having to work for them. This is a track that really suits our car but it was tough at the end. The BMW was fast, but I guess they short-fueled too much. We’re just delighted to get the win. It’s such a great run for the whole program, Ford CGR. It’s a hell of a ride right now and we’re just enjoying every moment of it."

#3 Corvette leads the winning #67 Ford GT and the 911 Porsche
#3 Corvette leads the winning #67 Ford GT and the 911 Porsche

A Full-Course Yellow just under an hour left in the race presented a great opportunity for GTLM cars to make their final pitstop, which they all did. The #67 Ford left the pits in second behind the #25 BWM Team RLL M8 GTE and would spend much of the second half of the race behind the BMW.

That was until the #25 BMW of Alexander Sims and Connor De Phillippi ran out of fuel just one lap short of the checkred flag. De Phillippi could not coast up the uphill pit entry and would finish the race from behind the wall, sixth in class.

Second and third in GTLM was the #4 Corvette C7.R GTE with Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner and the #3 Corvette C7.R GTE with Antonio Garcia and Jan Magnussen. It was a largely uneventful day for the pair of Corvettes who were able to keep their noses clean and leave Road America with a decent finish.

The same could not be said for the car that was leading the championship heading into this race, the #66 Ford GT. Dirk Mueller started the car from pole and lead for much of the race’s first half until a suspension failure forced the car to make a trip to the pits. The Ford mechanics did a great job repairing the car but from there it was damaged control.

Problems plagued both of the Porsche 911 RSRs with the #911 Porsche being handed a drive-through penalty as a result of contact with the #67 Ford GT. Meanwhile, the #912 Porsche suffered a drivetrain issue in the final fifteen minutes of the race, those cars ended the day in fourth and fifth, the #912 Porsche leading its sister car.

RESULTS: Continental Tire Road Race Showcase

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