'I'd never done anything like this' -- Red Bull Global Rallycross driver Colin Braun's blogShare Facebook Tweet Pinterest Email
Hi, I’m Colin Braun. You might recognize my name from the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, where I drive the No. 54 Porsche 911 GT3 R for CORE autosport. Or you might even remember me as the 2008 NASCAR Truck Series Rookie of the Year. I’ve won the Rolex 24 at Daytona, 12 Hours of Sebring and Six Hours of the Glen, and I still hold the record for the youngest driver to stand on the podium at the 24 Hours of Le Mans. I’ve been racing since I was 5, but until last year, I’d never done anything like Red Bull Global Rallycross.
Last year, I made my GRC Lites debut with CORE midway through the season. CORE’s only been around since 2010, but they quickly became a powerhouse in the sports-car world. They were five-time IMSA Prototype Challenge champions, and I’m proud to say I helped contribute to those titles since 2012, when I joined the team. So impressive is CORE’s operation, Porsche signed the team to run its two-car GTLM factory team. Last year, CORE decided to expand even more, into GRC.
We probably approached our first year a little differently than most … we assembled a group of guys that were all good mechanics, engineers, drivers and spotters, but between all of us, we had zero GRC or even rally experience! We showed up to Daytona and the total of our experience was that our program manager had been to one GRC race!
I’d seen a couple GRC races on TV, and the series was just as competitive as I expected. It was totally different from anything any of us had ever done before. I actually finished on the podium the very first day, which I think is a testament to the strong group of people we put together, who, despite having zero GRC experience, knew the kind of hard work it takes to win races.
Last year, I think one of the biggest things we learned was how each session builds on the ones before. You don’t have pit stops and 12 hours of racing to recover from mistakes. If you have a mistake in the first heat, you’re starting at the back of the second heat and you’ve got to finish in the top three in that second heat to make it into the main. If you’re starting last in that second heat, passing six cars in five laps is a challenge and the next thing you know you’re in the LCQ, and even if you win the LCQ, you’re still starting at the back of the main!
We didn’t win any races last year and we’ll be missing some races this year (three rounds conflict with the IMSA schedule), so we’d be hard-pressed to get a championship, but as far as I’m concerned, the more you can be driving any kind of performance race car, the better you’re going to be as a driver across the board. Certainly, there are lots of small differences that are unique to each category, but being a good race-car driver is about finding the limit -- that applies across all disciplines.
Going into the 2017 season, no longer a rookie, is a comforting feeling. We’re still learning, but my goal is simple: to win races. I want to be a frontrunner week in and week out. Last year, I seemed to have a knack at finding my way into every LCQ (last chance qualifier) and then finding myself at the back of every grid for the main. We somehow found our way to the podium most times, but I’d like to make it easier on myself and the team and be able to skip that LCQ.
Something that might surprise you about GRC Lites is that we use spotters, and that takes some time to get comfortable with. You have to work together, and they help you know when to take the Joker Lap and where you want to line up on the grid.
In that way, GRC feels more like NASCAR than sports-car racing -- in other ways, too. They’re a bit more rough and tumble with officiating, and allow more contact. The cars are technically sophisticated, but at the end of the day it’s not all about downforce and aero grip. It’s a little more about mechanical grip.
It’s really easy for a guy like me that’s been in racing his whole life to be a fan of this series. I think that goes for all my peers, too; they’re fans of GRC and like to ask about our trials and tribulations.
If you want to see the trials and tribulations yourself, you can watch me and my teammate, Jon Bennett, when the season opens at Memphis International Raceway April 28 -29!
By Colin BraunRead More
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