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Oct 21, 2012 - 07:36 AM
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2012 Petit Le Mans: ALMS Race - CORE Autosport Caps Off Dominating Season With Win
Posted by: newsla on Oct 21, 2012 - 07:35 AM
American Le Mans Series News
2012 Petit Le Mans: ALMS Race - CORE Autosport Caps Off Dominating Season With Win

Today’s 1000-mile Petit Le Mans didn’t just mark the end of the 2012 American Le Mans Series (ALMS) season, but it also marked the eighth win of the year for CORE autosport. The #06 Soloson Import ORECA FLM09, driven by Alex Popow, Ryan Dalziel and Mark Wilkins dominated the Prototype Challenge (PC) class, winning the Road Atlanta event by more than two laps over the next contender.


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The win was made even more special for the team as they were “Racing For Ralph” in honor of Ralph Brown, CORE autosport’s original and beloved crew member, who is recovering in the hospital from a brain aneurism suffered on September 22nd.

Popow, lead driver of the #06, took the first shift behind the wheel, among a 42-car starting field on the 12-turn, 2.54-mile circuit. Starting from the fourth spot (16th overall when factoring in the faster P1 and P2 classes), Popow drove smart and maintained his position before turning the car over to Dalziel, who was able to drive through the field into the first PC position. From that point – approximately one-quarter into the race – Dalziel, Popow and Wilkins – cycled through the driver’s seat, rarely relinquishing first place. Dalziel took the final shift of the day and continued extending the lead, ending up on the top step of the podium (sixth overall).

This was the first Petit Le Mans win for all three drivers, and the fifth win of the year for the #06 machine.

The sister #05 Composite Resources machine, driven by team founder / owner Jon Bennett, Colin Braun and Ricardo Gonzalez, started in second place and was in the hunt for the lead until the last quarter of the race, when an on-track incident set the car, and team, back in the standings. When the checkered flag flew, the #05 was scored in fourth place (10th overall).

Tonight’s win marks not only the eighth win for the Rock Hill, SC-based team but also the 17th podium visit on what has been a dream season for CORE autosport. The team clinched its second consecutive ALMS PC championship by the seventh race of the year (Road America) and its second consecutive driver’s championship, in 2012 for Popow, by the ninth event (VIR).

This was Popow’s rookie year in ALMS competition, and with a variety of co-drivers including Dalziel, Wilkins, Tom Kimber-Smith, E.J. Viso and Burt Frisselle, managed a podium finish in all ten rounds of the 2012 season. Popow started the 2012 ALMS season off with a bang with a win at the fabled Sebring 12 Hours, then followed up with wins at Long Beach, Road America, Baltimore and the second major endurance race of the year, Petit Le Mans.

Braun and Bennett, in the #05, may have had a tough Petit Le Mans, but the rest of their season was not as troubled. The first year of their pairing, the team finished on the podium seven times, with three wins – at Laguna Seca, Lime Rock and VIR. Braun, also in his first full year of ALMS competition, scored two pole positions (Mosport and VIR). The duo not only propelled CORE autosport to its team championship, but they finished the year second in the driver standings.

Morgan Brady, team manager, CORE autosport:
“This was a phenomenal second season for CORE autosport and today’s win was even more special because we were able to do it in honor of Ralph Brown.

“To have won eight races out of ten this season and clinched the ALMS PC team and driver championships in advance is a testament to the hard work of everyone involved with CORE autosport.

“I’d like to thank the group that works so hard at the shop and track, including Mike Sales, Eric Van Bibber, Jay Ribas, Adam Wareing, Neal Everhart, Jamie Brooks, Brian Heriza, Ryan Imperial, Jeremy Joyner, Bobby Khavidi, Keith Goslin, Ross Needham, Fred Beltran, Sean Smith, Bryan Winn, Austin Bennett, Aaron Hamilton, Jim Cahall, Deb Forman and Lindsay Brown. I also want to thank our engineers, lead Gary Davies and Ed Nathman.

“And on behalf of the entire team, I’d like to thank Jon Bennett for his vision in creating CORE autosport.”

A special two-hour recap of the Petit Le Mans powered by Mazda will televise on ABC-TV at 1 p.m. (ET) on Sunday, October 21st.

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