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Oct 04, 2012 - 04:56 PM
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Gonzalez And Wilkins Join CORE Autosport For 2012 Petit Le Mans
Posted by: newsla on Oct 04, 2012 - 04:51 PM
American Le Mans Series News
Gonzalez And Wilkins Join CORE Autosport For 2012 Petit Le Mans


After clinching both the 2012 American Le Mans Series (ALMS) Prototype Challenge team and driver championships, CORE autosport has one more challenge ahead, the season finale 10-hour or 1000-mile Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta on Saturday, October 20th. To insure that the race season ends on a high note, the team has secured the services of two additional co-drivers – former CORE autosport driver champion Ricardo Gonzalez in the #05 Composite Resources ORECA FLM09 and Mark Wilkins in the sister #06 Soloson Import machine.

 

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Gonzalez, 34, of Mexico City, Mexico, is co-driving the #05 car with team owner / founder Jon Bennett and Colin Braun. The Mexican driver has a storied history with CORE autosport – in 2011 he was a full-time driver in the #06 car and was 2011 ALMS Prototype Challenge (PC) driver co-champion and played an integral part in the team’s inaugural championship. Thanks to his two wins, six podium finishes and very impressive drives last season, Gonzalez knows the cars, and the team’s processes and procedures, very well.

In 2012, Gonzalez has branched out from the ALMS to FIA World Endurance Challenge (WEC) competition in the P2 class, occasionally driving back in the US series in P2 as well. This year’s Petit Le Mans marks his return to PC, with the goal of finishing two places higher than his 2011 third place spot (30th overall when factoring in the four other classes).

Wilkins, 29, of Aurora, Ontario, Canada, is co-driving the #06 machine with 2012 ALMS PC driver champion Alex Popow and 2012 Le Mans LMP2 class winner Ryan Dalziel. Wilkins has more than 11 years of experience behind the wheel as a winning driver for AIM Autosport, in the Canadian Formula Ford Championship, Formula Ford 2000 Zetec Championship, North American Formula Renault 2000 Championship, Star Mazda, SCCA World Challenge and in the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series. Not only is Wilkins an accomplished racer, but also is well versed in the business side of the sport, serving as the vice president of sales and marketing for Salistera, Inc.

Wilkins has endurance racing experience in the ALMS PC class as a co-driver for Level 5 racing in 2010, scoring victories at Sebring and Laguna Seca. That season at Petit Le Mans, he finished 4th in PC (34th overall) after suffering mechanical failure when leading the rest of the class by more than a lap.

CORE autosport has only competed in the grueling Petit Le Mans once before – in 2011. It was at that event that the South Carolina-based organization won their first ALMS PC team championship, by one point, and tied for the ALMS PC driver’s championship. The #06 car finished third in class (30th overall) while the #06 finished fifth (35th overall).

2012 is a different story for the team. Out of nine races, the two-car team has won seven times, was on the podium 16 times and was able to clinch the ALMS PC team championship after the seventh round of competition (Road America), as well as clinching the driver’s championship after round nine (VIR). Heading into Petit Le Mans the team counts on continuing their dominating season, with class victory and a solid finish in the overall order.

The Petit Le Mans will be held at the 12-turn, 2.54-mile Road Atlanta circuit in Braselton, GA. Practice begins for the event on Wednesday, October 17th, qualifying will be held on Friday, October 19th and the race starts at 11:30 a.m. (ET) on Saturday the 20th.


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