2017 Mid-Season Review: Jon Bennett
STATS (through 6 of 12 rounds): 10th in GRC Lites points (206), best finish 5th, 1 heat win
POSITIVES: The owner/driver of CORE autosport notched his first GRC Lites heat victory in the second round of the 2017 season in Louisville, beating polesitter and eventual podium finisher Gustavo Yacaman and three-time heat winner Cole Keatts for the win. In fact, the first two rounds of the year were extra kind to Bennett, who equaled a career-best finish in Memphis before setting a new mark with his first career top five result in Louisville.
“It’s still driving a car, so to speak, but it’s completely different techniques,” Bennett explained of the differences between rallycross and his previous sports car experience. “There’s a lot of driving to the grip level. The curveball is we haven’t been to these tracks before. It’s like walking through a dark, haunted house—you don’t know what you’ll get next, but it adds to the interest.”
NEGATIVES: Unfortunately, Bennett is the full-time driver with the fewest heat rounds under his belt in 2017. Due to an IMSA commitment in Detroit, he was unable to step into the Lites car in New England until the Saturday final—instead, team manager Brian Colangelo drove Bennett’s ride in relief until the team landed on track property in a private helicopter just in time to start the main event.
Ottawa, however, was a different story. Bennett and company were there from day one, but an engine change after a last-place finish in the first round of heats knocked him out of all Saturday competition. He would return to action on Sunday, but couldn’t muster much more; with so much less track time than his competitors, he was only able to earn ninth place in the main event after running fifth in each of his heats and semifinals.
OUTLOOK: Bennett won’t be on track this weekend in Indianapolis, and combined with his DNS in the first Ottawa final, his championship hopes may be finished. But he and teammate Colin Braun have been making some of the older GRC Lites teams sweat with their results this season, and now that they’ve got a full year under their belts, more heat wins (and eventually, an overall victory) should be coming soon.
Photo credit: Louis Yio