The newly named GT Le Mans class has gained even more strength for 2014 with the arrival of Porsche North America to the fray.
After a season campaigning its new 991-based Porsche 911 RSRs in the FIA World Endurance Championship, the German manufacturer has expanded its factory efforts to include the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship with a two-car program, operated by CORE autosport.
It’s been a busy off-season for the three-time and defending Prototype Challenge class champions, as the Jon Bennett-owned organization ramps up for the highly anticipated, and pressure-filled works effort with one of sports car racing’s top manufacturers.
“The partnership with Porsche has gotten off to a really good start,” CORE autosport COO Morgan Brady told Sportscar365. “I think the mindset of strong engineering and management fundamentals between the two companies… There’s a lot of parallels there.
“We’ve managed to get up and operational very quickly. It’s been smooth. We think it’s only going to progress from here.”
While run under the Porsche North America banner, with its official headquarters in Santa Ana, Calif., the cars and equipment are operated out of CORE’s state-of-the-art 30,000 sq. ft. shop in Rock Hill, S.C.
CORE’s involvement, however, deals with the day-to-day operations of the program and not the actual development of the cars, which is a joint project between PMNA and Weissach-based Porsche AG.
Porsche AG completed a week-long test at Sebring with the 911 RSRs last month, with this weekend’s Roar Before the Rolex 24 marking the first official outing for the CORE-run squad.
“Porsche has done such a great job with the car,” Brady said. “It’s a pretty well sorted component of this process and is a known quantity. It’s done a year in WEC already.
“It’s really everything that goes on around the car, meaning equipment, trucks, personnel, procedures… Everything that it physically takes to get the car to the track. That’s really where our challenge lies.”
It’s resulted in the team making some key new hires, as well as splitting off its PC operations into a standalone team, which has resulted in some crew changes.
Brady, who oversaw both the customer Porsche 911 GT3 RSR and PC efforts last year, will focus nearly all of his attention on the factory Porsche program.
Patrick Long, Michael Christensen, Nick Tandy and Richard Lietz, the squad’s full-season drivers, are all expected to be on hand this weekend as the 911 RSR takes to Daytona International Speedway for the first time, in what will likely be a crucial test for both car and team.