While disappointed, Colin Braun had no regrets after coming up just short in his and co-driver/team owner Jon Bennett’s bid for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Prototype drivers crown in the debut season in the category for CORE autosport. In a nail-biting finish to Motul Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta, Braun, Bennett and third driver Romain Dumas finished two places below what they needed after a late-race splash-and-go for fuel.
“I think everybody did all they could,” reckoned Braun, who along with Bennett wound up four points down to Action Express drivers Eric Curran and Felipe Nasr. “At the end of day we came up a little short on fuel. If we’d had a few more laps, I think we could have won the championship.”
Entering the season finale four points out of the lead, CORE took an aggressive strategy, putting Bennett in the car to start the race and run his required 45 minutes of drive time. Bennett turned over the No. 54 Composite Resources/Flex-Box ORECA 07 LMP2 to Dumas near the two-hour mark, after which the Le Mans 24 Hours winner and Braun shared driving duties for the remainder of the race, with a goal to stay far enough ahead of the No. 31 Action Express Cadillac to claim the title. Prospects for that were looking good after well-executed pit stops helped CORE jump ahead of the No. 31, which then started to fade back as Braun climbed as high as fourth.
Unable to go the same distance on fuel as the Cadillac, which did not need to push as hard as Braun in the final stages, CORE was forced to pit with less than 15 minutes to go. This dropped Braun to seventh — directly ahead of the No. 31, but not enough to overcome the point deficit.
“It was disappointing if you look at it as a single event, but on the season as a whole, we did a great job as a team.” Braun added. “Finishing second in the points is a tremendous accomplishment for our first year in Prototypes and I’m really proud of everyone on this team.”
Team owner Bennett similarly felt the team could draw plenty of satisfaction from its 2018 effort in which, competing against factory teams with decades more experience in the Prototype category and with a true pro-am driver line-up, it scored a pair of victories (at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park and Road America) and five podium finishes.
“I can’t say enough about the effort that went into this year in our inaugural Prototype season,” said team owner/driver Bennett. We faced some very exceptional competition. I think we gave them a run for their money and I think we will continue to. I couldn’t be prouder of my team and my co-drivers.
“It wasn’t the result we’d hoped for tonight, but the sun will rise tomorrow and in the end we had a really amazing season and everyone should hold their heads high.”