Colin Braun admitted that he didn’t think there was a chance of LMP3 class victory in the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring after going two laps down in the early stages.
Braun capitalized on strategy and a series of wave-bys to put his CORE autosport Ligier JS P320 Nissan back on to the lead lap after the team suffered a number of setbacks in Saturday’s second-ever LMP3 race in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
The No. 54 Liger LMP3 survived a brief loss of power and contact with another car, resulting in a drive-through penalty for co-driver George Kurtz for what IMSA deemed to have been incident responsibility.
With damage to the front splitter that affected the car’s handling, Braun went from fourth to first in the final two hours, pulling out a sizable lead prior to the second-to-last full-course caution.
He managed to hold off Jeroen Bleekemolen in the No. 91 Riley Motorsports Ligier for CORE’s fourth Sebring class victory.
“I’ll be honest, two laps down in a competitive class like this, I didn’t think there was a huge chance that we’d get the win,” Braun admitted.
“These guys did a great job on strategy to put us in a position to capitalize on the yellows when they fell our way and get us back on the lead lap. We had a fast car at the end.”
It marked Braun and co-driver Jon Bennett’s third Sebring class win and the first major endurance win for Kurtz, who typically drives with Braun in Fanatec GT World Challenge America powered by AWS competition.
The Braun-Bennett-Kurtz combo was the only double Bronze-rated driver lineup in the class.
“I’m proud of George and Jon and the work they put in early in the race,” said Braun.
“LMP3 is a super tough class, not just competitively, but in survival.
“We’re in the hornets’ nest of front running GTDs and the GTLMs and as everyone’s pace, stint and tires change, we shuffle from faster to slower to faster. Staying out of trouble is half the battle really.
“The guys did an amazing job in the pits every single stop. We were always leaving on fuel and it ran like clockwork. It was a super team effort for sure.
“I think the turning point came toward the end when we got a couple yellows that allowed us to get back on the lead lap.
“Once you get back on the lead lap, you have a fighting chance. I just put my head down and tried to get up there.”
Kurtz, the co-founder and CEO of CrowdStrike, meanwhile, won in his Twelve Hours of Sebring debut.
“This feels amazing and for my first time here, it’s just unbelievable,” he said.
“The CORE team did such an amazing job. Colin was a rocket ship. I couldn’t imagine being in a better spot than with this team.
“For me, we put a lot of hard work into this and to see the success is overwhelming.
“You watch the 12 Hours of Sebring on TV and you’ve attended it before, but once you’re in it, the competition is so intense.
“I feel really lucky to be a part of it and I’m looking forward to capitalizing on this momentum.”