Colin Braun is set for his second start at the TotalEnergies 24 Hours of Spa this week alongside his Fanatec GT World Challenge America powered by AWS teammate George Kurtz plus Valentin Pierburg and Dominik Baumann for SPS Automotive Performance.
This week in the Pirelli Paddock Pass, Braun discusses the season so far in GT World Challenge America, what makes Spa different than the other major endurance races, his prospects for the event, and more.
How would you assess your season in Fanatec GT World Challenge America to date?
“I’m certainly proud of George and the whole DXDT group. We’ve had some really good runs. Unfortunately we’ve had some challenges along the way but we seem to have had a really good run of Sunday races, anyway.
“We’ve had good speed, good execution by the team, just a couple of things have gone our way that are a little bit out of our control.
“We’ve used this time during this break to regroup and I’m feeling really good about the rest of the season going forward.
“The thing I’m happiest about is just the speed we have in the Crowdstrike Mercedes. I feel like we’ve been in position to win nearly every race if it would have fallen our way. We’re feeling good about that.”
Have you noticed the change that DXDT Racing made in the offseason like moving from Utah to North Carolina and hiring new personnel starting to pay off?
“I think it has. Moving the shop to the East Coast, getting some full-time folks in the shop working, that’s been absolutely helpful.
“I would say that doesn’t come without its growing pains along the way but the guys have done a really good job. I think this little time off that we have on the SRO America side will give us the time to come out fighting in the last half of the season.
“We have really good speed, we just need to clean up a couple of small things and if we’re able to do that we’re going to be a force to be reckoned with in the second half of the season.”
Even though SRO America is in a break, you and George are staying busy with testing, some prototype racing, and a trip to Spa. How much does that help keep you both sharp?
“George has been doing a fantastic job in the race car this year from the Mercedes to the prototype. The growth and the work that he’s put in over the last years is coming to fruition and it’s great to see some great results.
“People are starting to take note and recognize the talent that George has and the work ethic that he has. It’s great to be a part of that and a lot of fun to go and drive a couple of different kinds of race cars and to go over to Spa and do that again. Last year we had such a fun time, it’s such a great event.
“SPS is such a strong team and I’m looking forward to rinsing and repeating that whole program again this year. It’s going to be a blast, I know.”
What did you learn from that trip to Spa last year that can help you this time around?
“We certainly were drinking from the fire hose last year! I’ve been fortunate enough to drive an LMP3 car at Spa in years prior, but there’s nothing like being out there on the race track with 60-plus GT3 cars, in the pouring rain, at night, and that’s just for qualifying!
“That was one of the first sessions that George and I had last year: qualifying at night in the rain. It was definitely jumping into the deep end of the pool, but it was a lot of fun.
“There are so many things to learn. The way that that race track drives, the way that the rain sits in different corners and places on the race track, those little nuances you have to learn and going back for year two will be quite a bit less stressful.
“We’re able to hit the ground running a bit more. We know how the race flows and last year was super succesful for us.
“We made all the laps, we finished the race, so we gained as much experience and knowledge as we could last year. We plan to put that to use this year and hopefully we’re up to speed to hit the ground running.
“It’s definitely a challenging, competitive class. The teams from Europe are really on it and the drivers know the circuit and the tires really well.
“It’s definitely going to be competitive and challenging but I think we’re up for it.”
How does the 24 Hours of Spa compare to other major endurance races you’ve competed in?
“For me, I’m fortunate to have done the 24 Hours of Daytona, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Sebring, all of those kinds of races.
“I have to say from a competition standpoint, standing there watching the start of the race last year and seeing 60-plus GT3 cars going by to take the green flag was incredible.
“We didn’t have the fans so it’s hard to gauge that but from a competition standpoint just the sheer volume of competitive, fast cars that are all in essentially the same [GT3] category, 60+ of the same kinds of machines, it’s pretty breathtaking to watch.
“It means there’s never a dull moment on the track because you’re always fighting or racing against somebody for some position. There’s never those moments of boredom, that’s for sure.”