CORE autosport return to Long Beach this weekend for round three of the 2016 WeatherTech Sportscar Championship looking to continue their unbeaten run at the legendary street circuit.
The team raced three times at Long Beach between 2011 and 2013 and took victory in each of those events, and race again at the circuit in 2016 with regular drivers Jon Bennett and Colin Braun.
Bennett admits he loves driving around street circuits, and believes the upgrades made to the Prototype Challenge car Oreca FLM09 chassis should enable better traction, especially around the legendary hairpin turn that is the circuits standout corner.
“I’m thrilled to be back at Long Beach with Colin Braun and CORE Autosport,” said Bennett. “This has always been a favourite event of mine and I can wait to get back on the Long Beach streets.
“I’m not sure why, but I love street circuits and Long Beach is a great one. It’s fun for the spectators and there is always a festival atmosphere. Plus, there is the secret satisfaction of driving a purpose built race car at the limit on public streets.
“The upgrades to the PC car, especially the traction control, should help us exit the slow tight corners like the hairpin. I don’t expect we will need to re-learn the technique, just get the wheel straight and ‘let her rip!’
“Long Beach is our shortest race of the year. Mistakes do not erase easily with time like they may at Daytona or Sebring. It’s time to bring your focus and aggression A-game.”
Braun is also keen to return to the track he describes as ‘interesting’ for the PC cars, and insists track position is key on a track notoriously difficult to overtake, and says luck plays a key especially when it comes to pit stops and yellow flags.
“I’m looking forward to going back to Long Beach!” insisted Braun. “It’s a great race and it’s always good to see all the people that come out. The last couple of years, I’ve kept an eye on it via TV, wishing we were there, so I’m really happy to be back in the PC cars.
“It’s an interesting track for our cars. Most of the corners are pretty tight, so the PC cars don’t get to use all the downforce they make, but there’s also a couple quick corners that our cars make pretty good downforce on and it’s pretty fun.
“When we raced in 2013, I led the race overall for a bit, so the PC cars are certainly quick. The GTLM cars make a lot of good mechanical traction and grip though. It’s always been a pretty tight field there across the classes. I think with the traction control system on the PC cars, that’ll help us a lot in the low speed corners. That could potentially open the gap a bit to the GTLM cars.
“A track like Long Beach is really hard to pass on, so track position is really important. However, with the drive-time rules for our class, it makes for a pretty narrow window to make the drive-time requirements and have enough fuel for a one-stop strategy. You’d have to catch all the right yellows. There’s a lot of factors that will play into making it a one-stop versus a two-stop race.”