Back-to-back American Le Mans Series PC class champions CORE autosport will take on an additional challenge in 2013 with a Porsche 911 GT3 RSR GTE class assault headlined by Porsche factory star, Patrick Long and three-time Le Mans class winner, Tom Kimber-Smith.
The new entry will be in addition to the team’s confirmed return to the PC class where team owner/driver Jon Bennett and young star Colin Braun are targeting CORE’s third consecutive championship.
After showcasing its talents with two championship victories in two years in prototype competition, CORE now becomes a Porsche customer team in 2013.
“CORE autosport has obviously achieved great success in the PC class in the ALMS but we’re really looking to expand our horizons and show what the team is capable of,” team owner, Jon Bennett said.
“This has been a strategic business design by our company. Our target for 2013 is to build a strong infrastructure capable of supporting a two-car factory effort. We want to prove we are capable of being successful in GT racing and this year will be a great learning experience for us.
“We know the GT class in the ALMS is one of the most fiercely contested events in the world. That will become a great measuring stick for us. We know we are really stepping into the big leagues – not only against other Porsche customer teams but Corvette, BMW and Ferrari.
“Morgan (team manager, Morgan Brady) and I are thrilled that Porsche has shown faith in our team by making Patrick available for us. There are a lot of Porsche fans in the paddock and we look forward making them CORE autosport fans as well.
“We know the car can win races and Patrick’s record with three ALMS championships and two Le Mans wins is exceptional.
“Being able to team him with Tom Kimber-Smith who became a regular at CORE last year is an amazing opportunity. In total they have five Le Mans wins between them.”
CORE autosport will undergo an extensive test program starting after the 12 Hours of Sebring with a race debut soon to follow.
Jens Walther, president of Porsche Motorsport North America, welcomed the new team to the Porsche customer team family.
“We are pleased the Core autosport has chosen the Porsche 911 GT3 RSR to compete in the American Le Mans Series GT class for 2013 – giving us three customers teams entered in the most competitive GT race series in the world,” Walther said.
“Jon Bennett and Morgan Brady have shown a very high level of professionalism right from our first meeting last year at Le Mans and the PMNA team is looking forward to working with the team.”
A Porsche factory driver since 2003, three-time ALMS GT champion and 21-time ALMS GT winner, Long is eagerly awaiting the opportunity to kickstart CORE’s GT program.
“It is an exciting year for me. I’m ready for a role of growth in 2013. It is going to be a great challenge because the GTE class has a ton of activity and a lot of manufacturer involvement. It will be about getting up to speed quickly and growing for the future,” Long said.
“I first noticed CORE when they made their debut in Sebring 2011. Straight away you could tell that these guys were very serious. They run an efficient and successful operation and when you look at Porsche I see a lot of similarities between the two organizations.
“I think it is going to be a great fit. Although prototype and GT cars are all out on the track together, in GT racing there is a very different mentality. I am looking forward to the opportunity to work from the ground level with an organization that has proven they can win in another class, but are now ready to go up against all the other manufacturers in GT.
“2013 is a transitional year for the American Le Mans Series. It is a great opportunity for CORE autosport to get up to speed. I need to learn the team, the team needs to learn the car but we have realistic expectations and to be at the ground level to start that building process is very exciting.”
Long’s new teammate Tom Kimber-Smith will return to GT action in 2013. The talented Brit has remarkably taken three Le Mans victories in only four attempts at the French classic. Last season, he dovetailed a full-season with P2 competitor Greaves Motorsport in the European Le Mans Series (ELMS) with four races, four podiums and a victory for CORE autosport in the ALMS. He also scored his third victory at the 24 Hours of Le Mans after being drafted into the race-winning HPD LMP2 squad.
“I can’t wait to get started. As soon as I heard about this program I knew it was something I wanted to be a part of,” Kimber-Smith said.
“This has all come together really quickly and I am sure the time between now and when we make our race debut will go by very quickly. I am really excited about being in the ALMS on a full-time basis. I don’t think there is another championship in the world quite like it.
“To be in the GTE class will be something very special because I think it is going to be as competitive as it has even been. I really couldn’t be in a better position.
“Having Patrick as a teammate is going to be fantastic. While I have won Le Mans in the GT class before, I haven’t done any miles in a Porsche previously so his input is going to be a huge asset. We’ve crossed paths before – his final year in British Formula Ford was my first year in the class.
“Patrick is super fast in a Porsche so I don’t think I could ask for a better teammate. This will be a big challenge for CORE autosport and myself. To step into the GTE category will not be easy but having Patrick around will be a big help.”
In addition to CORE’s PC and GTE programs, team owner/driver Jon Bennett will add a debut season in the Porsche IMSA GT3 Cup to his PC championship assault. The Porsche IMSA GT3 Cup Challenge by Yokohama is an eight-race single-make championship that visits seven rounds of the ALMS plus an appearance at the fabled Watkins Glen circuit.