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BRAUN: VIR Debrief

Colin Braun reflects back on his first ALMS GT podium finish with CORE…

Photo: CORE autosport

Photo: CORE autosport

Going into last weekend, I had a feeling VIR was going to be a good track for the CORE autosport Porsche 911 GT3 RSR.

The car is strong under braking and is good at tight, technical corners, which VIR has a little bit of.

The Esses, in particular, are a place where driving technique is really important and I felt that Pat and I would be fast through there because we both have a lot of experience at VIR.

VIR without the Oak Tree definitely feels different, but I had already driven the track shortly after the tree fell, during an event I was driver coaching at.

It still takes awhile to get used to though, because as you approach the turn, it looks different from what you’re used to seeing and your visual references are no longer there.

I’m still adapting to the Porsche. So far, the hardest thing for me is watching all my old PC classmates pass me! It’s quite frustrating at times watching the guys I used to dice with drive by me. That’s one of the strangest things to get used to and comfortable with.

I’ve had to use my mirrors a lot more too. When I was in the PC car, nobody except the Muscle Milk, Dyson and one or two of the P2 cars were quicker than the PC cars. We didn’t get passed much, so it was more about looking forward.

In the GT car, we’re constantly getting passed by the P1, P2 and PC cars and I have to split my focus between getting through GT cars and getting passed by prototypes.

After practice and qualifying, we knew we didn’t have a car with the outright pace, so our engineer Gary Davies put together a smart race strategy. We played to our strengths and we ran my stint long compared to everyone else and managed our tires better. It allowed us to put Pat in later and take tires later.

Only a couple laps after Pat got in, the caution came out for the big accident with the two Porsches. On that pit stop under yellow, everyone else had to change tires and put more fuel in. All we had to do was put a little bit of gas in, so we leapfrogged to the front.

It felt great to make it to the podium. It’s cool to have a good result when you don’t have the outright pace. That shows the depth and strength of the team. We didn’t have the raw speed, but we were smart and didn’t make mistakes.

Early on in the race, there were quite of few teams making mistakes and taking themselves out of contention. It was important for us to keep our heads down and run our race how we planned to run it.

I had my own personal victory at VIR. I just finished restoring a 1972 Volkswagen Beetle and drove it from Charlotte to VIR. My family has had the car since 1995 when a local VW dealer in Texas gave it to my brother and I to drive around our property as kids.

When I turned 11, my dad and I got the idea to restore it so it would be my first car when I turned 16. But then racing got in the way and it became the longest restoration project ever.

When I moved from Texas to Charlotte it was still in pieces, so I had it trailered up here. I was really proud with how far it’s come and want to show it off at VIR, but I was a little nervous it wouldn’t make it the two and a half hour trip.

I made sure to have some of the crew guys on call just in case I got stranded, but she made it there in back without any issues!

It’s onward now to Petit Le Mans. Even though we’re not in the hunt for a championship, the team puts a lot of pressure on itself to perform well everywhere we go and I think we actually do better under pressure.

We dig deeper. At the last race, we’ll be digging deep for a strong result and preparing ourselves for next season.

Colin Braun (@colinbraun) is a sports car racing standout and former NASCAR Nationwide and Truck Series driver, currently racing with CORE autosport in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship

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