Gamble pays off for Colin Braun as race strategy sees CORE Autosport win from the back of the field at CTMP
After topping every session, Colin Braun completed a perfect weekend by going from worst to first to win the Mobil 1 SportsCar Grand Prix at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in Bowmanville, Ontario on Sunday.
A week after standing second on the podium and wondering what could have been done differently, CORE autosport employed the same race strategy and started Jonathan Bennett in the #54 rather than pole sitter Braun. With less than half the race time to run from last week, the gamble paid off in a big way north of the border.
“The strategy for these races is quite an amazing thing to watch unfold,” teammate Jonathan Bennett told Motorsport Week. “Shorter races reduce your creativity, but we have the best in the business and they’re very very clever.”
Despite facing a shorter race, the team looked to the Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen as a strategy model due to the team’s performance in the final three hour stint.
“We kind of looked at that race as a three hour event and looked at how it unfolded,” Braun told Motorsport Week, “we built our strategy based on what we saw at Watkins Glen.”
“It’s a bit of a roll of the dice with the strategy. Sometimes it works out.”
Harry Tincknell, who had been enjoying a possible podium performance in his Mazda DPi, went off late as Braun made a daring pass on leader Jordan Taylor. As the full-course yellow flag flew, Taylor assumed his place at the front of the pack. However, upon review, it was found that Braun had completed the pass before the yellow and restarted P1 where he would stay.
While posting a strong P2 performance for the Wayne Taylor Racing team, the frustration wears on as they have yet to visit victory lane since Detroit in 2017. Ricky Taylor also faced a frustrating day, finishing P5 while his teammates in the #6 Team Penske Acura DPi suffered pit penalties and a lost tire to finish P10.
It wasn’t only Braun who had to fight from the back, as the #31 Whelen Engineering Racing Cadillac DPi was piloted to a P3 finish by Felipe Nasr after a P11 start.
CORE autosport’s victory is the second consecutive overall win for a privateer LMP2 program in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
Ford Chip Ganassi teammates Richard Westbrook and Ryan Briscoe took the victory at CTMP, their first since the Rolex 24 at Daytona. In a role reversal from Watkins Glen, the team struggled throughout all of the weekend’s sessions only to find themselves on top of the podium on Sunday.
Despite strong pace in practice and qualifying, the Porsche GT team succumbed to a series of setbacks throughout the race from heavy traffic to a popped tire. They would be bested by the two Corvettes, whose aggressive pushes up the field solidified P2 and P3 finishes. Last week’s winners, Joey Hand and Dirk Mueller, would settle for P5.
Capitalizing on a struggling pace of the dominant 3GT Racing program, Jeroen Bleekemolen pushed ahead to the victory in GTD. He and teammate Ben Keating would be chased back to the finish line by Canadian Kyle Marcelli, looking to claim the victory ahead of a hometown crowd to no avail.
Andy Lally put Magnus Racing on the podium despite starting at the back of the field, continuing the race’s trend of fighting to the front even with the comparatively short race time. The fight for the championship lead continued with Madison Snow finishing P4 ahead of Katherine Legge’s P5 to slightly extend Paul Miller Racing’s points lead.
The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, after two consecutive weekends of hard racing, returns to the track on July 21st for the GT-only Northeast Grand Prix at Lime Rock Park.