CORE Autosport adds George Kurtz, Matt McMurry to lineup for endurance rounds

Kurtz McMurry CORE Autosport
CoreAutosport.com
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George Kurtz will join Jon Bennett and Colin Braun in the No. 54 CORE Autosport Ligier in 2021 in endurance rounds for the WeatherTech Sportscar Championship, with Matt McMurry added as a fourth driver for the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona. The No. 54 will be sponsored by Composite Resources and CrowdStrike.

Braun was set to race for Era Motorsports last year in their LMP2 program in the 12 Hours of Sebring, Six Hours of The Glen and the Petit Le Mans, but the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic upended those plans. He raced for that team in the TireRack.com Grand Prix and Road Atlanta and for Performance Tech Motorsports in the Petit Le Mans instead. Braun finished second in class for both events.

Braun raced for three different teams in 2020 in three races and was part of the winning DragonSpeed entry in the season-opening 24 Hours of Daytona.

Bennett ran the full season with CORE last year with top-five finishes in his first two starts, including a fourth in the 24 Hours of Daytona.

Kurtz and Braun have driven together on multiple occasions, including last year’s 8 Hours of Indianapolis where they finished fifth overall and first in the Pro-Am class with CrowdStrike as a sponsor.

“I’ve known Colin for a long time and followed his success with CORE,” Kurtz said in a press release. “This relationship is an extension of a successful run with Colin in sports cars, including our recent class win at the SRO Indy 8 Hour race and a successful Spa 24 Hour debut. I know CORE operates with a high level of professionalism, which is important to me if the car is carrying the CrowdStrike logo.

“I’ve been racing GT cars most recently, but I’m thrilled to get back to prototypes, where my racing career began. CORE is synonymous with winning and professionalism.”

 

McMurry moves over from the GTD class where he raced for Meyer Shank Racing in 2020. In 10 starts, McMurry was part of the class winning team twice at Road Atlanta in September and at Laguna Seca in November.

“I’m so excited to be joining CORE for the Rolex 24,” McMurry said. “They’re one of the biggest names in American sports car racing, so it’s an honor to get to join them. I look forward to working with Colin, Jon, and George and fighting for a win with them!”

McMurry was the 2019 LMP2 class champion on the strength of six victories.

All four drivers will have their first chance to drive the No. 54 at the Roar Before the 24, January 22 – 24. The 2021 IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship kicks off the following week with the Rolex 24 at Daytona, January 28 – 31.

Lessons learned in three rounds of Extreme E pay huge dividends in the Copper X Prix for Tanner Foust

Foust Copper X Prix
McLaren Racing
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To paraphrase the Grateful Dead, what a long, unique trip it’s been for Tanner Foust in his first season with the Extreme E series as he took his early season lessons to Chile to compete in the Copper X Prix. And he’s learned his lessons well.

In February, McLaren announced they would expand their motorsports program with an Extreme E entry. They signed two talented rally drivers in Foust and Emma Gilmour – and paired them for the opening round in Neom, Saudi Arabia with just a few days of testing under their belts. Baked by the Arabian desert sun, it was trial by fire.

The duo performed well in their debut, advancing into the final round and finishing fifth. As Extreme E headed to another desert halfway across the globe for Round 4, it was a good time to catch up with Foust and ask about McLaren’s progress. The Copper X Prix was held this past weekend in one of the most extreme regions in the world: the Atacama Desert.

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“The shock going into the first race was the speed,” Foust told NBC Sports. “It was much higher than we had tested. We spent a lot of time around 100 miles per hour [in race trim] and our testing speeds were more in the 60 to 70-mile range. Then, once we sort of got around that, the car got updated so you can drive it even faster.”

In rally racing, some incidents are out of a driver’s control. Even peeking around another car can be dangerous because of potholes that have recently been gouged in the ground or large bushes that seem to sprout up between laps. A couple of rollovers brought Foust back to earth – but the pace was there and that was important.

“We had some challenges this season,” Foust said prior to the Copper X Prix. “We had a good start; made the final, which is a difficult thing to do in this series. I had two rolls in the first three events, but I have improved each time. Now we come into Round 4 in Chile in a pretty strong position. We have competitive times as a team. We are communicating really well and have our heads around this Odyssey vehicle.”

Foust’s words proved to be prophetic.

He won the Crazy Race – Extreme E’s version of a Last Chance Qualifier – and did so after passing the field. It was the same manner in which he qualified for Saudi Arabia’s finale, but this time things would be better. There were those hard-earned lessons on which to lean – and Foust had reps under his belt. He was not going to be caught off guard by any random obstacles.

Tanner Foust passed Sebastien Loeb heading to the Switch Zone in the Copper X Prix. (Photo by Sam Bagnall / LAT Images)

In the Copper X Prix finale, he pressured one of the best rally drivers in the history of the sport.

Pitching sideways through a tight left-hander late in his stint, Foust put his McLaren Extreme E Odyssey at the head of the pack in front of Sebastien Loeb as they headed to the Switch Zone. There, he would turn the car over to his co-driver Gilmour.

The Extreme E series pairs male and female drivers with both taking a turn behind the wheel.

After the driver change, Gilmour lost the lead momentarily to Loeb’s teammate Cristina Gutierrez, but as they charged toward the finish line, she surged ahead and crossed under the checkers first.

“What an improvement for the team over this year,” Foust said after the race. “We have struggled through some of the events, being in our first year in competition. We showed true pace this weekend; overtaking Sebastien Loeb was a highlight.

“Emma put in a great run in the Final. I was fortunate to go from last to first in the Crazy Race and then first in the Final but with some flag penalties, we had 20 seconds added to our time, which put us into fifth. It was a great feeling crossing the line first, I love this wide style track and the NEOM McLaren Odyssey was fantastic here.

“Hopefully we can continue that momentum into Uruguay.”

Loeb and Gutierrez were elevated to the top of the podium, but no one can take away the feeling of crossing under the checkers first.


Racing Responsibly

Since cars were first invented, racing has played a socially responsible role by improving safety. As Earth reaches a tipping point with climate change, racing needs to adapt to these new needs and requirements, which is where Extreme E’s unique strategy becomes increasingly important.

The Extreme E experience is more than simple racing. Each race is accompanied by a legacy program designed to offset damage done by climate change and to erase the footprint caused by the events.

Foust, a biology major from the University of Colorado, was given the chance to rekindle his interest and give back to the environment ahead of the Copper X Prix.

The Atacama is the oldest desert in the world at 150 million years. It is the driest place on earth and has the highest degree of ultraviolet light. And yet somehow life perseveres through underground rivers with oases dating back to Incan times. Foust participated in preparing a local habitat for the reintroduction of a critically endangered water frog to Chile’s longest river, the Loa, which snakes its way through the desert.

“I’m loving the experience,” Foust said. “I’m putting on a lot of Chapstick, a lot of sunscreen. What a fascinating part of the world. I never would have come here otherwise.

“I honestly am very honored to be a part of this sport. I am a huge believer in the fact that motorsports has done us good in the last 100 years. I think we benefit every single time we put our seatbelts on and drive down the road to the lessons learned in racing since the turn of the century. And I really hope motorsports continues that tradition.

“I think that motorsports like [Extreme E] does it in a responsible way, a gender-neutral way and a carbon-neutral way.”