Motorsport

Racers at Home Series: Tristan Vautier

The latest driver to feature in the Racers at Home series is Frenchman Tristan Vautier. He made his name in America, with a 2011 Star Mazda and 2012 Indy Lights title leading to an Indycar berth in 2013. Since then he has diversified into sportscars, both in America and Europe.

He has parallel programs with Mercedes-Benz as a GT driver and with JDC-Miller in the IMSA WeatherTech series. For drivers like Vautier will multiple drives in a season, Covid-19 and the rescheduling of the season could really affect him.

Q1) First of all, where have you been spending the lockdown?

I’ve been in my US hometown in St Petersburg, FL, since the start of the confinement. Not the worst of places to be in these tough times!

Q2) How have you been filling your time?

I’ve been training a lot outdoors, practicing on the sim, and doing some reading and some other non-racing related stuff!

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Vautier celebrating his 2012 Indy Lights crown. The Road to Indy scheme propelled him from the junior ranks to the Indy 500. Photo: Motorsport.com 

Q3) How did you assess the Rolex 24 for your JDC-Miller team?

The team made a huge leap forward in this year’s Rolex 24, One car on the podium, two in the top five. Last year we qualified a second off the best Cadillac, this year, we were less than two tenths away. We still have some work ahead but everyone can be proud of the progress made after only one race with the Cadillac Dpi.

Q4) How has the Covid-19 rescheduling affected your racing plans for 2020?

It’s tough to know for now as we are not sure of the new schedules, conflicts, etc.! I should have a much clearer idea in a month or so.

Q5) Have you been joining the online sim racing trend recently?

I have! I have been trying to not get too addicted and to make sure I use it in the best way possible to be a better driver when we go back racing!

Q6) What has been your career highlight to date in your career?

My Star Mazda Championship title in 2011 because that’s what put me on the path to IndyCar, and to where I am now, at a time when it was make or break.

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Vautier returned to JDC-Miller for the 2020 Rolex 24, helping the team achieve a very respectable fifth place finish. Photo: Motorsport.com 

Q7) What is your favourite race track and why?

It was the Baltimore Street course but IndyCar doesn’t go there anymore. I’d say Watkins Glen, just because of the flow, the rhythm and the high speeds.

Q8) What is the biggest thing you miss about racing?

That moment when you are about to get going and things get quiet, and you can feel your heart beat rise.

That wraps up this latest installment of this series, my sincerest thanks go to Tristan for taking the time to answer these questions. Be sure to follow Tristan on Twitter here. When racing resumes later this year be sure to watch out for him both in the IMSA WeatherTech series and the Intercontinental GT Challenge.

Racers at Home Series: Dennis Olsen

The latest subject for this Racers at Home series is Dennis Olsen. Olsen is the reigning Intercontinental GT Challenge champion and a former Porsche young professional driver. He’s a former winner of the Bathurst 12 Hours and has extensive links with Porsche. Olsen was hoping for a big 2020 season but has had to hit the pause button thanks to Covid-19.

Q1) First of all, where have you been spending the lockdown?

First of all I had to spend the 14 first days inside as I was testing in Paul Ricard when the lockdown came. After that I’ve been busy with coaching, exercising as well as preparing for whatever will come at the end of the year (hopefully). I also had some time to catch up some time with friends and family.

Q2) How have you been filling your time?

I’ve been trying to spend time on what is important to me – it’s been pretty boring to be honest to stay at home for such a long time, but I’ve kept myself pretty busy all the time. So right now I’m just hoping to get back on the race track as soon as possible.

Q3) We’ve seen multiple GT makes scale back their racing plans, how much do you think Covid-19 will affect motorsport?

It’s a sport that requires a lot of sponsorship, money and it is and will be tough for everyone to keep on going as if nothing happened. Hopefully everybody can come through this crisis and get back competing as we did in January at Daytona.

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Olsen (left) partnered Matt Campbell (center) and Dirk Werner (right) combined for their Bathurst 12 Hour victory in 2019. Photo: Motorsport.com

Q4) The IMSA season is due to resume in late June, do you think this is realistic?
I do really hope this can be possible. Even though the championship can resume, it might be hard for me to travel. So fingers crossed that I can be there once we finally can see the green flag on track again.
Q5)Have you been joining the online sim racing trend recently?
I would like to and trying to get the equipment needed to be able to join some E-Sport while waiting for the real season to get started again.
Q6)What has been your career highlight to date in your young career?
My career highlight was to win the IGTC championship last year. We were competing against the best of the best, and the championship was not decided until the checkered flag.
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Olsen (center) celebrating his IGTC title with his Porsche team mates. Photo: Porsche 

Q7)What is your favourite race track and why?
Nordschleife is to me still a favorite, due to the dangers and consequences the track can give. But I do really love the tracks in the US generally as they still are ”old fashion” race tracks with small margin for errors.
Q8)What is the biggest thing you miss about racing?
First of all it’s driving the cars, and fighting for victories – but definitely also the atmosphere on track with the team members and everyone around on track.
I would like to thank Dennis for giving up the time to answer these questions. We wish him the best of luck for the future. Be sure to follow him on Twitter here and Facebook here.

Racers at Home Series: Zacharie Robichon

Covid-19 has wreaked havoc across the world. As the death toll keeps rising many countries are under some form of lockdown order. The knock-on effect for non-essential business has been massive, as we rightly focus on essential sectors such as health care.

Sport has rightly been largely halted across the world, including motorsport. Whilst the world focuses on much more important matters, this series will hope to bring a little relief by asking various racing drivers how they are spending their lock down time. First up in the series is IMSA WeatherTech GTD Porsche driver Zacharie Robichon.

Q1) First of all, where have you been spending the lockdown?

I’ve been spending lockdown at my cottage in Mont-Tremblant, Quebec. Shortly after the pandemic started and before the true lockdown orders were in place my girlfriend and I decided it best to come up here instead of staying in Montreal!

Q2) How have you been filling your time?

It certainly hasn’t been the easiest to fill all the free time. Luckily up here we have lots to do outside so lots of hikes and bike rides. And the same as many others I’ve certainly been trying lots in the kitchen. I’ve also had some work to do with my role in running the Porsche Experience in Canada so that gives me some work to do everyday!

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Robichon was a dominant Porsche GT3 Cup Canada champion in 2018, winning 11 of 12 races. This propelled him to a stunning rookie season in IMSA GTD last year. Photo: Motorsport.com 

Q3) How did you assess the Rolex 24 for your Pfaff team?

Of course Daytona was a big heartbreak for the team. We really believed that we were in a strong position and honestly as a team I believe we ran a near faultless race. The issue we faced was not caused by us or anything that could have been predicted by Porsche and was really just a freak accident and we happened to be the victims.

Q4) The season is due to resume in late June, do you think this is realistic?

At this rate I believe everyone is doing their best to try and get things moving. The key is that we need to ensure that we can move ahead safely with all the necessary safety precautions in place. I believe the biggest hurdle that we will face is the international travel rules and the potential for required quarantine when you do travel between countries. I’d like us to go racing of course, but I’m unsure whether or not it will be possible at the end of June.

Q5) Have you been joining the online sim racing trend recently?

I have not joined the sim racing trend. There’s a few reasons for this but the main ones being I don’t have the space for one! And to be completely honest my internet at the cottage would likely not support it anyways.

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Robichon’s debut IMSA season couldn’t have gone much better. A Sprint Cup title, two wins and third in the GTD class. The future looks very bright for this young Canadian. Photo: Motorsport.com

Q6) What has been your career highlight to date in your young career?

It’s tough to pick one highlight but if I had too I would say the GTD Sprint championship from last season. Moving up to this level is always filled with a bit of self-doubt on whether or not you will be able to perform but that accomplishment really made all the hard work worth it.

Q7) What is your favourite race track and why?

If I had to pick one track it would be Road Atlanta, I love the high risk and high speed nature of it.

Q8) What is the biggest thing you miss about racing?

The racing itself! Nothing gets the adrenaline going like competing and pushing to your maximum against people who are doing the same. Driving is incredible, but nothing can replace the competition we feel on Race day.

I would like to say a massive thank you to Zacharie for giving up his time to answer these questions. Be sure to follow Zacharie on Twitter here and check out his website here. Next up in this series will be reigning IGTC champion racer Dennis Olsen. Stay tuned to the blog!

 

Zacharie Robichon Interview

2019 was the year that Zacharie Robichon emerged on the GT racing scene. The young Canadian was 3rd in the GTD standings with the Pfaff Porsche, in his first year in the IMSA WeatherTech series. He was previously the 2018 Porsche GT3 Cup Canada champion.

It’s tough to improve upon third with two wins in your rookie campaign, but Robichon has a great chance to in 2020. He is partnered with Porsche supported driver Dennis Olsen, and is joined by fellow factory drivers Lars Kern and Patrick Pilet for the Rolex.

Just before race week got underway I asked Robichon some quick questions about the upcoming season.

Can you reflect on what a good 2019 season it was?

The beginning of the 2019 season was a big eye opener for myself and the team. We learnt quickly that to be successful in endurance racing it was as much about being smart as it was about being fast.

Once we settled in, we had a great run to end the year which ultimately finished in the sprint cup championship for myself. Looking back it, I don’t think I ever imagined we would be able to perform at that level by the end of the season but it certainly gives us confidence moving forward.

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Robichon was a revelation for Pfaff in 2019, and is now one of the hottest young talents in the IMSA GTD class. Photo: Motorsport.com

What do you think are the strengths and weaknesses of the Porsche at Daytona?

The Porsche has always been strong on the brakes and in the infield, I think that trend will continue this year. There are so many questions marks regarding which setup you decide to run so it is hard to say exactly where the car will be at its strongest / weakest compared to the other competitors.

The one thing we do know is that Porsche always provides us with a car capable of winning and I don’t expect anything different this time around.

What is it like being joined by Porsche factory drivers Patrick Pilet and Lars Kern for Daytona?

Anytime you get the opportunity to share the car with drivers of that caliber its very special. Obviously Patrick’s success and experience from this race in the past is something that we will lean on heavily throughout the race to make the best decisions as a team to put us in the best situation throughout the race.

I’m very happy to have Lars joining us once again not only for Daytona but for the four long races this year. He was a great addition to our team last year and I expect him to keep learning and improving as he gets to know the North American tracks better.

Who are your main rivals at the Rolex 24 this year?

It’s so hard to pick any one team. This year in GTD I believe the level has stepped up to another level over last year and just about any car on the grid could win the race with the right decisions and luck!

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Despite this small off at the Roar, the Pfaff team can feel confident going into 2020, starting at the Rolex 24. Photo: Motorsport.com

What are the biggest things the team can improve upon in 2020?

The team has stepped up immensely and grown since this time last year. We are much calmer as a group then we were this time last year and if we can keep that mentality and focus that we finished the year off with last year I believe we have a great chance at success not only at Daytona but for the entire season.

Would you be interested in racing international GT3 events in the future?

I would love the opportunity to do some international races, the beauty of the GT3 platform is that the cars and rules are extremely similar around the world which gives drivers the opportunity to move around in familiar equipment if the opportunity were to present itself.

My thanks go to Zacharie for these great answers. I wish him and his #9 team the best of luck this season! Find me on Twitter @JWjournalism if you liked this article!

Lars Kern Interview

It’s been an interesting path for Lars Kern to reach this point. The 32-year old German has been associated with Porsche for almost ten years now, but is only beginning to emerge in motorsport.

He holds a number of production car lap records thanks to his role as a development and test driver for the German marque. Only in the past three years has he been incorporated in GT3 racing. He has primarily raced in VLN and the 24 Hour series, before making his IMSA debut with Pfaff Motorsport last year.

He returns to Pfaff this year, joining Dennis Olsen, Zacharie Robichon and Patrick Pilet for the Rolex 24. Before the race I asked him some quick questions surrounding his plans for Daytona and the 2020 season.

How happy are you to be back with Pfaff Motorsport for the Rolex 24?

24h Daytona is such a special race. But even if you’re fully prepared it’s a huge gamble. You have to get every little detail right to go for the win. Pfaff is an amazing team and it’s a honor for me to be with them for another year.

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Kern’s role with Porsche has expanded in recent years, including this Intercontinental GT drive in Kyalami late last year. Photo: Porsche AG.

What do you think are the strengths and weaknesses of the Porsche at Daytona?

I think we have a super reliable and good handling car. We don’t have the best pace i guess but we have a great package.

How was the Roar test for the #9 team?

The Roar Test went super smooth. We just did our program, checked all set-up directions and found a good rhythm.

Who are your main class rivals at the Rolex 24 this year?

Basically every car can win GTD. If you go through the drivers and teams, the quality is incredible.

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Kern and the Pfaff Porsche return in 2020, and will be hard to miss with their plaid livery. Photo: Motorsport.com 

Are you likely to do more endurance rounds with Pfaff this year?

Yes, I’ll do all four endurance Races with Pfaff and my mates Zach and Dennis. And I’m really looking forward to it.

Describe your role as a Porsche test/racing driver?

The role is pretty spread up between racing and testing. Racing is the side job, Testing and engineering is my daily job. It’s important to constantly work on the performance, driveability and Quality of our cars. This sums it up!

What are your racing plans for 2020?

In 2020 I’ll compete in IMSA Endurance and Nuerburgring Endurance Championship incl. 24h Nuerburgring. Let’s see if there are more races but this is already a great program so far.

I would like to thank Lars for giving us these great answers. I also wish him and his #9 team the best of luck this weekend! Find me on Twitter @JWjournalism if you liked this article!

Jesse Krohn Interview

Jesse Krohn has been retained by BMW Team RLL for the 2020 IMSA WeatherTech series campaign. The Finn had a burgeoning career in Formula Ford and Formula Renault in Europe, before being picked up as a BMW junior driver in 2014.

He developed with various customer BMW teams in GT3 racing, with a 2017-18 Asian Le Mans Series GT title along with sporadic IMSA GTD drives. Since 2018 he has been placed with BMW Team RLL, partnering American John Edwards.

Both are hoping to take the next step in 2020, having yet to win in their two years together. Just before he left for Florida I asked Krohn some quick questions to gauge his thoughts entering the 2020 season. I also interviewed team mate Edwards, which you can find here.

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Krohn impressed with Turner Motorsport in GTD across 2016-17 before stepping up with BMW Team RLL in 2018. Photo: Motorsport.com

What has your off-season been like and are you excited to get the season started?

Off season has been less busy than in the last couple of years as I didn’t drive in any of the Asian GT events after IMSA season finished. This has given me a great chance to focus more on training to be fully prepared at Daytona and the coming IMSA season.

What developments have BMW made to remain competitive in GTLM?

At this point it is more about fine tuning what we have instead of introducing any major updates. We have learned a lot about the car over the past two years and now it is all about using that knowledge to get the best out of our package.

What do you think are the strengths and weaknesses of the BMW at Daytona?

Difficult to say where we might be stronger or weaker compared to our competition as they have new cars which we have not raced against.

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Krohn is partnered by John Edwards for their third season together. Photo: Motorsport.com

How was the Roar test for the #24 team?

Roar was very productive and we managed to get thru our testing program without any issues.

Who are your main rivals in GTLM at the Rolex 24 this year?

There are no weak opponents in GTLM and all team have proven to be able to win any race on any track. I would consider all the cars to be our main rivals.

Could you describe your relationship with the team and John Edwards, you’ve been with the team for a number of years now.

John has been my longest standing team mate and we have a super good relationship. I have a lot of trust in his ability as he has proven to be able to get the best out of any situation.

I don’t have to worry about anything while he is in the car. Over the last few years we have been able to fine tune our team work to the max and we are more ready than ever to get the season started and start winning races.

Are you going to be a part of a potential BMW entry at the Le Mans 24 Hours this year?

Unfortunately I have no knowledge on this topic.

Is IMSA your primary program this year or will you compete in global GT events for BMW also this year?

IMSA is my primary championship but I will also take part in other GT races. I don’t know exactly which ones yet, but that will be confirmed at a later date.

I would like to thank Jesse for taking the time to answer these questions, and wish him and his #24 team the best of luck this weekend. Find me on Twitter @JWjournalism if you liked this article.

 

John Edwards Interview

John Edwards is back for his seventh season with BMW Team RLL, racing the M8 GTE in the GTLM class of the IMSA WeatherTech series. The 28-year old American is partnered with Finnish driver Jesse Krohn for their third year together. 2019 was tough for BMW, outside of a surprise Rolex 24 win.

BMW closed it’s WEC program after one season, but remain committed to IMSA. Augusto Farfus and Chaz Mostert join the duo for the Rolex 24. Edwards has been racing cars since age 12, and was twice a Star Mazda champion before switching to sportscars in 2010. He developed in the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge, before being picked up by BMW full-time in 2014.

Just before the race week began I was able to ask him some quick questions surrounding his preparations for the 2020 season.

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BMW Team RLL celebrating their Rolex 24 GTLM win last year. Photo: BMW Team RLL.

What was your off-season like and are you excited to get the season started?

This was my best off season yet since I got married the week after Petit! My wife Serena and I had a perfect day and have enjoyed our first few months of married life, but as usual I’m itching to race again and can’t wait to get the season started this week.

Describe your working relationship with Jesse Krohn?

I’ve known Jesse quite a few years as we raced together in Germany prior to him coming over to IMSA. He adapted quickly to the team and we all know he’s got speed.

In endurance racing, it’s always hard to be out of the car watching someone else drive, but Jesse and I have faith in each other so I always know he can get it done in qualifying or the race when I’m watching his stint from the pit box. It’s nice going into the new season with the same co-driver and same engineer as the prior year, as consistency should bring results.

What do you think are the strengths and weaknesses of the BMW at Daytona?

Power-down traction is probably our weakest point since we are competing against mid-engine cars. But we have good straight-line speed and great handling in the high speed, so we are consistently the quickest in the bus stop, which helps us get a run to make passes in to T1.

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Edwards and Krohn are looking to improve upon a poor 2019 season, with two second places their highlights. Photo: Motorsport.com

How was the Roar test for the #24 team?

The Roar was interesting this year since Porsche and Corvette both have new cars and it was our first chance to evaluate how the compare. From our perspective, it was pretty routine as we got back in the swing of things after a few months off.

Who do you think are your main rivals in GTLM this year?

The great part about GTLM is that anyone can win on a given weekend. We have a small field but it’s deep with talent and we always have to be at our best to compete.

What are the teams expectations for the season?

We showed speed last year, but lacked consistency weekend to weekend. This year the goal is to be in the championship fight by avoiding the up and down results.

I would like to thank John for taking the time to answer my questions, and I wish both him and BMW Team RLL the best of luck this weekend! Find me on Twitter @JWjournalism if you liked this article!

Nick Boulle Interview

Nick Boulle has quickly developed into a very promising amateur driver with the IMSA WeatherTech series. He famously became the first Rolex dealer to win the fabled Rolex watch, after winning the PC class at the 2017 Rolex 24.

Since then Boulle has raced both in the top prototype division along with a year in GTD last year. His day job is with the families Diamond and jewelry business, but he still finds the time to race. He has even competed twice in the Le Mans 24 Hours. Boulle drives this year for PR1/Mathiasen along side Gabriel Aubry, Ben Keating and Simon Trummer.

Before he traveled down to Daytona for the Rolex 24, I asked him some quick questions about his prep and expectations for this years race.

Firstly, explain how the deal with PR1/Mathiasen came about?
I spoke to Bobby a while back and to be honest, I didn’t have much put together, much less plans to be racing at the 24 Hours of Daytona, but we connected in early December and thanks to several of my longtime supporters and some new ones we were able to put together a lineup I am SUPER excited about.
I’ve seen what Simon & Gaby can do through the years and I’ve long considered Ben Keating a great friend and also one of the most formidable drivers of any rating in “Pro-Am” racing scenarios out there. Being in the car with these guys for 24 hours to me, is a pretty ideal scenario.
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Boulle was part of the winning Performance Tech PC class effort at the 2017 Rolex 24. Can he win a second Rolex watch this year? Photo: Motorsport.com

Are you excited to be back in the prototype ranks?
I felt a bit behind on my personal prep at the roar, but I’m catching up and will be fit & fight ready by race time. This was essentially my first time in an Oreca and I was hugely impressed by the PR1 Motorsport’s car. Especially considering the last minute nature of it all, the car ran flawlessly.
What do you think are the strengths and weaknesses of the Oreca at Daytona?
I would say the only real weaknesses of the Oreca at Daytona are the BOP settings we have to keep us behind the DPi — which is not a criticism of the rules. Compared to any manufacturer of LMP2 car at the moment it’s the only choice if you want a real shot at consistent success. After driving it, I understand why.
How was the Roar test for the #52 team?
The car ran flawlessly and it was really important, for me especially I felt, not only to find a comfortable position in the Oreca, but also to get some time under my belt. I haven’t really driven hard since July so I was shaking the dust off for sure… Simon, Gaby & Ben all performed like pro’s and we really spent time getting to know each other too. I’m even more excited after the roar for what we have put together.
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PR1/Mathiasen won the LMP2 title last year, and return with another strong line-up this year aiming to combat the rise in quality this year. Photo: Motorsport.com 

Who are your main rivals in the LMP2 class this year?
I don’t know that I could name just one… There are so many strong cars this year that I feel like every single car in our class is someone to watch. It’s great to see that for the future of the LMP2 category in IMSA!
Do you have a good working relationship with the PR1/Mathiasen team?
100%. I know how hard every guy & girl that’s a part of the PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports organization works… They aren’t here just for work, they are here to put together a winning car. It was my first time working with engineer, Tim Lewis, at the Roar Before the 24 so that was fun, but I’ve got a great rapport with everyone in the team. Now we just have to see what we can put together at the ROLEX 24!
I would like to thank Nick for his amazing answers you see here, and I wish him and the PR1/Mathiasen team the best of luck for this weekend! Find me on Twitter @JWjournalism if you liked this article!

 

Cameron Cassels Interview

Cameron Cassels and Performance Tech return to a vastly different LMP2 landscape from last year. The team were one of only two full season entries in 2019, with tweaks to the class bringing the entries up to five this season. Performance Tech were mainstays of the previous LMPC class, before switching to LMP2 with their Oreca 07.

Cassels returned to motorsport in 2015 after a long break to start a family, progressing in sportscars. He has raced primarily in the IMSA Sports Car Challenge, Lamborghini Super Trofeo USA and IMSA Prototype Challenge classes before stepping up to IMSA with Performance Tech last year.

As he begins the build up to his second Rolex 24 I asked Cassels about how his preparations are going.

Describe your off-season and does it feel good to get the season started?

Was there an offseason?  Joking of course!  This year I actually had a bit more of an offseason than usual and was able to spend some time with my family during the holiday break.

However, I was still able to keep the rust off by running the IMSA Encore event at Sebring in the LMP3 car just before the Christmas break and the first IMSA race of the season two weeks ago in the IMSA Prototype Challenge event at Daytona in an LMP3 car.

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Cassels has been a part of Performance Tech for three years now, including the teams LMP3 entry in IMSA Prototype Challenge. Photo: IMSA.com

Are you excited to be back with Performance Tech this year, and do you have a good working relationship with the team?

It is always a pleasure working with a group of individuals that are as motivated to succeed as the Performance Tech Motorsports team.  Brent and Gwenn have built a team that competes at a world class level.  I am fortunate to be able to call the owners crew friends throughout my 3 years with the team.

What are your thoughts on the Daytona circuit, are you a fan of it?

Daytona is definitely a special track on our schedule.  It poses challenges in setup and driving styles that are unique to this track with the two horseshoes, bus-stop and NASCAR banking.  The great thing is that it offers ample opportunity for exciting passes.
In 2019 we fought for nearly 24 hours finishing a respectable P2 in the Centinel Spine #38.  Unfortunately the race ended prematurely due to a deluge of rain throughout the morning, otherwise I honestly believe the win was within our grasp.
How was the Roar test for the #38 team?
The Roar is always a great opportunity to throw some setups at the car and give new driver lineups an opportunity to gel before the 24.  We made some great progress on the balance of the Centinel Spine #38 car as well as each driver getting a feel for each other before we get together again next week. It will be a bit of a reunion as Kyle Masson, Robert Masson and I team up again with, a new to Performance Tech driver, Don Yount.
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This is Cassels second year in the teams LMP2 Oreca, looking to improve upon their class podium last year. Photo: IMSA.com

Who do you think are your biggest rivals in the LMP2 class?
Honestly I think it is anybody’s race to lose.  Each of the LMP2 cars have great driver lineups in them again this year.  Even though the race is a 24 hour long endurance race; the engineering, design and technology in these modern LMP2 cars make this race a 24 hour sprint race.  The key, as always, will to be grind it out on track with zero mistakes.
What are yours and the teams expectations for the year?
2019 was a strong development year for us, as was evident when we look at the performance throughout the year as the team brought home the 2019 Michelin Endurance Cup.  We are approaching this year with a focus on not only the Michelin Endurance Cup again,  but also the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
I am excited to get the season underway in the Centinel Spine #38 LMP2 car.  With increased LMP2 car counts it should be great to watch.  As an added bonus, we won an entry into the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans at the Circuit de la Sarthe in France for 2020.  Make sure you tune in this season for some exciting racing!
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Cameron for answering my questions, along with wishing him and the team the best of luck this weekend! Find me on Twitter @JWjournalism if you enjoyed this article!

Colin Braun Interview

It’s the start of a new chapter in the career of Colin Braun. He joins DragonSpeed for the Rolex 24, after his time with CORE Autosport came to an end.

Braun drove with CORE team owner Jon Bennett for five years, and enjoyed tremendous success together. Despite Bennett not being a professional driver they came three points shy of winning the 2018 IMSA title.

After a long association with CORE the move to DragonSpeed is only for Daytona at the moment. It’s widely expected however that Braun will join the team for the Le Mans 24 Hours, along with further potential drives in the European Le Mans Series.

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CORE Autosport closed it’s DPI program after the 2019 season, leaving long-time co-driver Braun without a full time drive for 2020. Photo: Motorsport.com

DragonSpeed are the defending Rolex 24 LMP2 class winners. They return with Ben Hanley, Henrik Hedman and Harrison Newey. In the build up to the race I asked Braun some quick questions about leaving CORE and his hopes with DragonSpeed.

How tough was it to leave the CORE Autosport team after so many successful years with them?

Tough for sure, CORE was a fantastic team with so many great team members and a long history together. But as they say nothing last forever!

What are the big differences between the Nissan DPI and the Oreca at Daytona?

Well the Nissan was in the DPi class and with the ORECA being in the LMP2 class it is a bit hard to compare as the regulations are different.  The LMP2 car is restricted down on horsepower and aero configurations so certainly slower on the straight away’s but in the corners the ORECA really handles well and is very comfortable to drive!

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DragonSpeed return as defending LMP2 class winners, with Braun hoping to add to his 2014 PC class win. Photo: Motorsport.com

What do you think are the strengths and weaknesses of the Oreca at Daytona?

I think the ORECA is really a strong car. Very reliable and well built. I don’t think to many weakness’s with the chassis to be honest, they have run them for a few years and have so many racing around the world it is very strong! We just must protect the car on the racing and traffic side to keep all the aero bits attached!

How was the Roar test for the #81 team?

Great test. Learned a lot and for me to integrate into the Dragon Speed team was a lot of fun, such a great group of guys and they are very hungry to win!  Fantastic teammates as well in Ben, Harrison, and Henrik so I am feeling good!

Who are your main rivals at the Rolex 24 this year?

I think everyone in the class will be tough honestly, I know the Starworks lineup is quite strong but also the PR1 lineup as well… I think we can’t count out anyone!

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Braun and CORE Autosport became the dominant force in the PC class, with a Rolex 24 class win the highlight of their 2014 season. Photo: Motorsport.com

Could you describe your relationship with DragonSpeed, did you know many of the team before joining?

I have known Elton Julian for many years as we raced against each other back in the early PC days in ALMS. They run a great operation, so it is a pleasure to join!

How excited are you to be going back to Le Mans with DragonSpeed this year?

Well I am hopeful we get the invite, I know it is in the works but I would love a chance to get back to Le Mans again – last time I finished P2 so only 1 place to go from that!

Would you like to expand to compete in other major sportscar races such as the Spa 24 Hours etc?

Yes I would love to contest the Spa 24hr event, looks really challenging and fun. I had a chance to run in the Michelin Le Mans Cup series in 2018 in an LMP3 car which is all in Europe and really enjoyed that style of racing.

What are your racing plans for 2020 aside from Daytona and Le Mans?

I am hoping to be back in SRO again in the USA, that is a fun series and I always enjoy driving a GT3 car!

I would like to thank Colin for giving up the time to answer my questions, and wish both him and the team the best of luck this weekend! Find me on Twitter @JWjournalism if you liked this article!