Colin Braun feels that GMG Racing’s experience, not only in endurance racing but in previous SprintX races, will pay dividends for he and co-driver George Kurtz in this weekend’s GTS class debut of the multi-driver format.
Braun and Kurtz have teamed up in the Crowdstrike-sponsored Audi R8 LMS GT4 for the first dedicated GTS SprintX event, as part of a record 38-car field.
With the majority of drivers and teams new to the format, the added knowledge from the reigning GT3 Pro-Am championship-winning team along with previous SprintX starts from Braun, could give them an upper hand in the platform’s debut event, according to the sports car racing veteran.
“I think it’s going to play well to the teams with experience,” Braun told Sportscar365.
“With it being new for a lot of these teams, and not so new for a lot of the other teams, the green flag runs, there probably aren’t going to be very many.
“You’re probably going to have a lot of cautions and that’s going to make people be antsy about this restart, it’s going to be my only chance, so I’d be really surprised if it’s 40 cars of solid green flag running.
“I think it’s going to be about being smart, being patient, all the typical endurance racing things I think are going to play into it.”
In addition to the two-driver format for the majority of the GTS field, the other major change the SprintX format brings is a mandatory pit stop.
Unlike the GT classes which now requires a four-tire change, Pro-Am class GTS teams will only need to change drivers, although still adhering to 77-second minimum pit lane time determined for this weekend.
Braun, a two-time IMSA class champion, said that a perfectly executed pit stop could help win or lose the race.
“We have plenty of time to do the driver change but plenty of time here in the garage is one thing and under green when everybody is all revved up is another thing. We just have to be smart,” he said.
“We’ve got a really good group of guys that have a lot of experience so for us and for GMG it’s not our first time doing these kind of races. I think that’s going to be a strength for us.”
While having suffered an unlucky season-opener in St. Pete, defending GTSA class champion Kurtz feels the speed the team showed in the first Sprint weekend will translate here this weekend.
The duo are already off to a promising start, with Braun topping the time charts in practice on Friday.
“It’s still early in the season,” Kurtz said. “Just like we did last year we take one race at a time. We’ll see how it carries us.
“You have to win one at a time and the good news about St. Pete was we had good pace and I think we were very competitive.
“Hopefully we can make that transition carry over to SprintX.”
Prototype to GT4 in a Blink of the Eye
Braun, who is fresh off a fourth place overall finish in last weekend’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring in CORE autosport’s Oreca 07 Gibson LMP2 car, admitted it took a little adjustment in his first laps of the Audi GT4 car.
The 29-year-old turned his first laps in the car on Thursday.
“I went out for my first lap and went out into the Esses on my first lap and realized quite quickly this car has nowhere near the downforce that I was used to,” he said.
“That confidence carried me into a nice, big drift in the Esses… The GT4 car to the prototype, that’s a quite a big transition!
“Not having driven it before, for me it’s just about figuring out how to drive it, what it needs and how to make it fast. But it’s been good.”