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Jan 27, 2014 - 06:49 AM
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2014 Daytona 24: C.Braun, J. Bennett, M. Wilkins, J. Gue
Posted by: newsla on Jan 27, 2014 - 06:44 AM
Grand Am News
2014 Daytona 24: C.Braun, J. Bennett, M. Wilkins, J. Gue


THE MODERATOR: We're joined now by our Prototype Challenge winners, No. 54 CORE autosport ORECA FLM09, Jon Bennett, James Gue, Colin Braun and Mark Wilkins. This is the first Rolex 24 for the Prototype Challenge class, and this is the first class win here at the Rolex 24 for all four drivers, although Colin did win a Daytona Prototype race at Daytona International Speedway, the Brumos Porsche 250 in2006. Colin, kick it off. Obviously quick in testing, quick in qualifying, and you turned it into a win. Your feelings on that here in the first PC race?

 

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COLIN BRAUN: Obviously just really excited. These guys at CORE autosport did such a good job, and I think it comes down to the preparation that we had over the wintertime. We worked really, really hard to come up with a plan that we wanted to stick with, and we just came prepared this weekend and executed our plan, down to being quickest in bothpractices before qualifying, qualifying on the pole, winning the race. I think we must have led the most laps. These guys, Jon, Mark and James just did a really good job behind the wheel and our engineer Tom Brown did a great jobdoing strategy. It's nice when a race goes that way. It seemed like luck was sort of on our side, and bad luck wasn't really too much around. It was just one of those races where we were able to stay out of the pits and just stop for tires and gas and changing drivers, and it was just a perfect race for us.

Really cool to win here at Daytona. Obviously this is a special place, and it's neat to do it with these guys at CORE autosport. I've driven with Jon the last couple yearsand thankful that he gave me an opportunity to drive with that group. We built a lot, and it's a really cool environment, and it's neat to obviously have CORE win on the GT side as well. A pretty big day for the company.

THE MODERATOR: Jon, as the team owner can you speak to both of those things, winning as a driver and kicking off that Porsche North America relationship in the most successful way?

JON BENNETT: Yeah, there's not enough time or words, but obviously I'm very proud of my companies, both on the Porsche side and on the prototype side, and really thrilled to be with my co‑drivers today.

As you can imagine, it's quite a special day for me personally. Motorsports has always been very, very close to my heart. I've worked very, very hard to get here, and Porsche has been a brand that's been always very close to my heart, and to kind of see both of those accomplishments crystallized in one day, it's hard to put into words.

I'm very, very happy for our client Porsche. They make a fantastic product, and I'm very, very proud to represent them. I'm very, very proud to represent all of the hard work that went into both the prototype side, and especially the Porsche startup of the factory effort. It's quite beyond words, also, for the amount of work that went into getting ready for this race.

It tingles. I can't explain it. I'm very, very happy to be here, and I'm quite blessed. Thank you.

THE MODERATOR: Mark, your thoughts on a Rolex 24 win after a lot of years of trying here?

MARK WILKINS: Yeah, this was my 11th start and I had a great year last year with AIM in a Ferrari, finished third. It's great to come back and win it. It was obviously one of those races that you dream about winning, and to be sitting here with Jon, Colin and James after a fantastically executed race by a spectacular race team in CORE autosport, it just feels great.

Just very fortunate to have had the opportunity to be with these guys, and there's a special guy that's not with us ‑ my dad ‑ who gave me an opportunity to be here, and it just feels great to get a great result at Daytona with these great guys, and we're going to celebrate tonight, that's for sure.

THE MODERATOR: James, just your feelings on winning here?

JAMES GUE: I still think I'm dreaming right now. Obviously this is the dream of any sports car racer to win here at Daytona, and obviously it all came about. I've known Mark and Colin for 10‑plus years, and obviously gotten to know Jon well in the last couple weeks. You know, a month‑and‑a‑half ago I didn't even have a ride for this race. For all this to come together and just to slot right in, and these guys at CORE autosport made me feel at home. Jumped in, it was a seamless transition, and I couldn't be more happy.

Q. Jon, obviously a great success for your team. From a logistical point of view, how do you separate the two programs and how much interaction is there, if any?

JON BENNETT: Well, the best answer to that question is I have a couple of guys who run that program, Morgan Brady from the Porsche side, Owen Hays, and they've worked night and day. I think we've made a lot of new friends at Porsche, and we've gotten a lot of support obviously from the factory and from all the engineering that's available to us. From our side, Porsche has gotten access to our facilities and manufacturing capabilities.

It's been quite interesting a marriage of sorts, and I look forward to many years of our collaboration.

Q. Jon, starting this season in a perfect way, winning the PC class, in the future are you planning to move up to the P class? And can you maybe give some update or info how the contact with Porsche came together? You approached them or they approached you? And had you ever had contact with Porsche before?

JON BENNETT: I would say that there are some very smart people at Porsche that recognized the work that we were doing in the Prototype Challenge class. I say smart because they noticed what we were doing.

They sought us out and talked about what could be a possibility. It took me a little while for that to sink in because we were such a small team. And there always seems to be some type of order of such that a small, relatively unknown team could operate with such a well‑known company.

That's how it started. We talked for several months, I would say over a year, and like I said, I'm very, very proud to represent the brand and was quite nervous about how today would go because there are so many variables in racing, as you know. There are many, many teams here today that worked very, very hard and do not have a result.

That's just the nature of our business and our passion.

Q. The P class in the future?

JON BENNETT: Yeah, we have some equity in the Prototype Challenge class. It's something that we've learned a little bit every season, and I think Morgan and I saw an opportunity to sort of capture some of the hard work that we've done as this class becomes more competitive, and I think that the prototype challenge class is going to see ‑‑ is going to be a very competitive class, and I think it makes us sharper so that if we do decide to make a move to a higher prototype class,we'll be that much smarter when we go.

I wouldn't rule it out, but we're kind of wait and see at this point. It's expensive. (Laughter.)

COLIN BRAUN: We could all sell the Rolexes to raise money. Or we could always win another one. There's more to win, right?

Q. Colin, 20 minutes to go the caution came out and it bunched everybody up and made all the classes interesting except yours. How was that to know that I don't have anybody on my bumper that's trying to pass me for the win? After going 23 hours and 40 minutes, to know that as long as you don't do anything stupid with the car or anything stupid happens to you, you're going to win?

COLIN BRAUN: Yeah, I mean, it was great. I worked pretty hard during my last two hours to try and get a lap up on the second place car so that we did have a little bit of breathing room, I guess. You know, that hard work paid off when that caution came out. It trapped those guys from getting the wave by, and they were right behind us, so we knew we were going to be restarting the race with a full lap lead. That makes your job a lot easier.

But still got to stay out of trouble and be smart and that sort of thing. So yeah, it was definitely nice but not a given. You're always sitting there wondering, hit this curb too hard, does something break, you get a flat tire, do you run something over. This race can bite you right at the end.

Yeah, it was nice to have a little breathing room, though.

THE MODERATOR: Congratulations, gentlemen.


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