IMSA’s LMP2 cars break through in consecutive weeks

July 26, 2018

IMSA’s LMP2 cars break through in consecutive weeks

July 26, 2018

Two teams with the base Oreca 07 LMP2 chassis have broken through for overall wins in the last two race weekends.

JDC-Miller Motorsports and CORE autosport captured their first overall triumphs in all-class IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship races.

For JDC-Miller, the GAINSCO-sponsored “Red Dragon” took the win at Watkins Glen International. Stephen Simpson, Misha Goikhberg and Chris Miller shared the iconic red No. 99 prototype to secure the Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen victory.

Then the following Sunday at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, it was CORE’s day to finally end on top. The longtime pairing of Jon Bennett and Colin Braun scored the overall win. Braun delivered a comeback drive after the team switched its starting drivers and moved from pole position to the rear of the 12-car Prototype grid.

Tese are teams and driver lineups that had won in IMSA’s Prototype Challenge class. IMSA discontinued the class at the end of the 2017 season. CORE was the benchmark team, having won five consecutive team championships from 2011 to 2015. Meanwhile, JDC-Miller won a Rolex 24 race in the PC class.

These two teams have advanced into IMSA’s Prototype category this season and are flying the flag as privateer entries. Manufacturers fully support the Daytona Prototype international (DPi) entries, from Acura, Cadillac, Mazda and Nissan.

Both teams have come close to overall wins before. However they had not hit this target until the last two events.

Simpson made a pass up the hill at the Esses at Watkins Glen past two champion drivers in Juan Pablo Montoya and Jordan Taylor. The two-in-one move was recognized nicely by the paddock. The fact Simpson pulled this off after a win slipped through his grasp last year made for sweeter redemption.

“To be honest, twelve months ago we were, we were not sitting in here but we were on the podium,” he said. “I’d be lying if I if I said that I didn’t think about that, those last couple of laps almost on a weekly basis over the last four months and what I could have done different so to achieve this result with the guys today is great.”

Simpson and JDC-Miller added a second July win in the Continental SportsCar Challenge race at Lime Rock Park. Thanks to a last lap pass of another car, Simpson and co-driver Michael Johnson won the TCR class. Johnson scored his first professional victory. This is a special achievement for him; Johnson is paralyzed from the waist down.

Braun worked his way back through the field at CTMP, and then made a pass of Taylor at Turn 8 in the waning stages here to move into the lead.

“It’s so cool to get the first win for CORE at this level,” Braun said. “It’s been a pleasure driving with Jon all these years. We’ve had a lot of firsts together and done a lot of cool things and this is another one of those things in a long line.”

Bennett’s CORE autosport team supports the works Porsche GT Team in GT Le Mans. They’ve had a lot of success together over five years. Bennett and strategist Jeff Braun perfectly executed their plan to pit just past the 30-minute mark in the race.

“Have a passion, surround yourself with the best in the business,” Bennett said. “And Colin did a phenomenal job this weekend. His dad, Jeff, threw out a great strategy all race. And, I’m speechless. We had a great car to get here. I’m blessed by having great people around me.”

IMSA’s strength in depth is illustrated by the number of quality manufacturers, and number of teams that can win.

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