GRC’s first event in Canada took place on the runways of the Ottawa-Rockcliffe Airport, just next door to the Canada Aviation and Space Museum. The fan turnout was impressive despite the threat of storms in the area.
The doubleheader got off to a great start for Braun, who won his opening heat in the No. 56. Teammate Jon Bennett had the opposite experience, however, when an engine failure took him out of the first heat, and subsequently the rest of the day.
A strong Heat 2 and Semi-Final for Braun, put him in a great starting position for Saturday’s Final. He was able to take advantage of that and finish runner-up behind the championship leader. It was Braun’s second podium of the 2017 GRC season.
Sunday brought the promise of a fresh start for both Bennett and Braun. For Sunday’s event, the series switched the Joker Lap around, which was planned, but made additional unexpected changes to the track between practice and qualifying, which had the CORE crew hustling to make set-up changes to both cars.
Braun struggled in Heat 1, but bounced back to win Heat 2 and finished second in the Semi-Final.
Bennett’s car still had some mechanical gremlins to work out through the Heats and Semi-Final, but was feeling fast once he got to the Final. The No. 54 started from the back, but Bennett was moving up as soon as the green dropped. The rough dirt section thwarted his forward progress though; two hard landings there caused the suspension to fail and took Bennett out of the race.
A poor start for Braun in Sunday’s Final had him fighting to make up ground. One of those fights included some significant side-by-side contact that bent the suspension on the No. 56. Braun soldiered on with his injured car and finished eighth.
The GRC Lites races from Ottawa will air on NBC Sports Network, Wednesday, June 21, at 5pm ET.
CORE autosport will put the trials of Ottawa behind it now and focus on the next round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. The Six Hours of the Glen takes place June 30 – July 2 in Watkins Glen, N.Y.
Driver: No. 56 Composite Resources/ORECA Gear
“Obviously we had an up and down weekend. It was a really cool track with an interesting layout that kept changing throughout the weekend, which was exciting. They tweaked the lead up to the jump area quite a bit all three days.
“We had some good speed in our cars. We weren’t the outright fastest, but the guys kept working on them and did a great job finding more speed. We were able to shine with some good calls on the Joker Lap and things like that, that helped us move to the front.
“We had some really good heat races on Saturday that put us in a good position in the Semi-Final. We were fortunate on quite a few of the starts and first couple of corners. We seemed to always have a good position coming out of the second corner and with how hard it is to pass in GRC, that’s critical. I’m really happy we were able to execute that well on Saturday. We ended up with a good finish of second in the final. It was a hard fought race.
“On Sunday they had a cool layout for practice, but they changed it for qualifying which required a different setup. I think we did a good job adapting to the new layout. All in all we qualified fourth on Sunday, but I had a rough first heat. We won the second heat though and had a good spot to start in the Semi-Final.
“We ended up starting fourth in the final. We didn’t get a great start in the first two corners. That put me fifth or sixth coming out of the first set of corners. I was stuck with guys I’m not used to racing and I got caught up in some side-by-side contact, which bent the suspension and effectively ended our race. It was kind of a disappointing way to end what had started as a good weekend on Saturday.
“It was an unfortunate weekend for Jon and the No. 54 guys. They worked super hard all weekend and fought and fought, and it was cool to see the whole team gel together trying to get Jon’s car sorted out. They didn’t deserve a weekend like that. I’m really proud of them. The track was not gentle on the cars and they kept our stuff in one piece. Hopefully, we got all the bad luck out of the way in one event. I’m sure we’ll have better times from here forward.”
Driver: No. 54 Composite Resources/ORECA Gear
“Ottawa was a great circuit at a super interesting location: the Canada Aviation and Space Museum. The weather was threatening all weekend, but primarily dry. A lot of Canadian fans came out to watch the GRC races. It was probably one of the better-attended events of the year.
“My Ottawa event was a string of mechanical misfortunes from the start. I had a good practice session but during qualifying I ended up with a stuck throttle, which led to a gearbox issue in the following heat race. It decided to completely fail and with multiple downshifts over-reving the engine, the gearbox failure cascaded into a full engine failure and I was done for the day.
“Sunday morning in warm up we were still sorting out an electrical and then a sensor problem. I wasn’t competitive and was struggling mechanically through the heat races. We got the car sorted for the final. I was quite competitive and moving my way up, but two hard landings back-to-back caused the suspension to fail.
“My hat’s off to the crew, especially my crew chief Darren Papworth. He worked very, very fast and feverishly all weekend. He did everything he could to get the car back on track and solve the mechanical issues quite quickly.”
“I’m looking forward to our next race when all the mechanical gremlins will be behind us!”