Top prototype outfit CORE Autosport has announced that it will move to the GT Daytona category of the IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship in 2017.
The South Carolina based team, which has five Prototype Challenge championships to its name, will begin a new chapter next season in line with the phasing out of current machinery.
From 2018 onwards, the ORECA-FLM09 chassis will no longer be eligible for IMSA championship rounds, with LMP3 set to make its debut next year in a new support championship.
CORE confirmed that it will run a Porsche 911 GT3-R in the 2017 championship, enabling it to keep its pro-am driver lineup of Colin Braun and Jon Bennett.
Partnering with Porsche is hardly a surprise, considering CORE has run the German marque’s factory GTLM operation since 2014. Braun and Bennett have also previously shared a car in the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge.
“The move to GTD evolved pretty naturally,” said Bennett.
“We knew we wanted to compete at a pro-am level. The competition in GTD is incredible and we’ve had a relationship with Porsche for four years now, so the 911 GT3-R stood out as a smart choice. As a Porsche owner myself, I’m really excited about the opportunity to team up with Colin and race one.”
As a result of the change, CORE has decided to withdraw its #54 Prototype Challenge car from the remaining two IMSA rounds at Circuit of the Americas and Road Atlanta.
In 2016 Braun and Bennett recorded victories at Sebring and Canadian Tire Motorsports Park, which helped them reach fourth in the Prototype Challenge standings. With a distant gap to the series leaders and a new programme to look forward to, absence from the final two races was the logical option.
“At CORE, we place a high value on preparation, and I don’t think we can go into 2017 as prepared as we need to be if we’re distracted by the final two PC rounds,” said CORE Autosport COO Morgan Brady.
“The first IMSA-sanctioned test at Daytona is only two months away and the 2017 season kicks off with a 24-hour race; we can’t be tying up loose ends when the green flag drops.”
CORE will return to the IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship fold at the Daytona test in January 2017.