2014 Rolex 24 at Daytona winner CORE Autosport is seeking to defend its Prototype Challenge class success this weekend. (January 24th-25th).
Jon Bennett’s South-Carolina based team won last year’s race by a comprehensive one lap margin, and after completing a successful winter testing program is widely considered to be the team to beat at this year’s Tudor United Sportscar Championship opener.
CORE Autosport has chosen to retain its victorious 2014 driver lineup, with regular TUSCC drivers Bennett and Colin Braun being joined by James Gue and Mark Wilkins.
Braun set the fastest overall PC time at the Roar Before the 24 test (January 3rd-5th), steering CORE’s #54 Oreca-Chevrolet FLM09 to a 1.41.769 lap time that was marginally quicker than Bennett’s pole position lap in the same car last year.
“CORE Autosport had a productive test at this year’s Roar Before the 24,” said Bennett. “We spent most of the Roar experimenting and not concentrating on outright lap time. Watching Colin at the top of the timesheet for several sessions was a bonus for our team.”
In addition to competing at the fabled Rolex 24, Bennett has been nominated for the prestigious Bob Snodgrass Award of Excellence, which recognises both on-track success and passion for the sport. Chosen by a panel of adjudicators, Bennett was hand picked alongside Alex Job (Alex Job Racing) and Will Turner (Turner Motorsport) as a worthy candidate for the award. The recipient of the accolade will be announced on January 23rd.
“I am very proud to have our motorsports company recognized with the nomination for the Bob Snodgrass Award of Excellence,” Bennett said. “Every member of CORE Autosport has performed with excellence and teamwork beginning the day we opened our doors. I am thrilled with the success we have achieved together and it would be an honour to accept this prestigious award for my teammates.”
While PC may be the most sparsely populated class at this year’s Rolex 24, it is arguably also the hardest category to succeed in. The identical Oreca-Chevrolets sit in the middle of the top speed spectrum, which forces drivers to be aware of both overtaking and being overtaken. Mentally, this poses a unique challenge to CORE Autosport’s drivers.
“I think the hardest part of the 24-hour race is the mental aspect and being able to adapt very quickly to changing conditions like the weather, car problems, fatigue etc,” explained Gue. “It is hard to get yourself to shut down and get rest in between stints, but it’s essential that you do otherwise you’ll be worn out before you get to the end.
“Starting the season with a 24-hour race can be stressful,” added Bennett. “There is a lot of effort that goes into a 24-hour race. An extremely busy December pays dividends in January (usually). Compared to last year, CORE Autosport now has a successful template to work from.”