CORE autosport has reversed plans of returning to the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship with a LMP2-spec car, announcing Friday a step up to the DPi class with a Nissan Onroak DPi.
The Jon Bennett-owned team, which finished runner-up in the Prototype championship this season with Bennett and Colin Braun at the wheel of an Oreca 07 Gibson, will continue to fight for overall wins but instead with the Ligier JS P217-based DPi car.
It comes after a “new opportunity” arose in recent weeks to acquire the Tequila Patron ESM-run Nissan DPis and all spares, after initially ruling out a switch to DPi for 2019.
“Ever since IMSA announced the split of the Prototype class it’s been our goal to enter DPi,” said CORE autosport COO Morgan Brady.
“Although we were headed in the LMP2 direction for 2019 within a matter of days the Nissan DPi program became a reality and we couldn’t pass this opportunity to compete for overall race wins.”
The team will retain its 2018 lineup of Bennett and Braun for the full-season, with Romain Dumas and Loic Duval joining the duo for January’s season-opening Rolex 24 at Daytona.
Dumas, additionally, will be in the car for the three remaining Michelin Endurance Cup races.
“I am extremely grateful the pieces have come together for CORE to run a DPi program, even if it’s a little late in the going,” Bennett said.
“If anybody can come together and have this Nissan ready for Daytona, it’s the incredible group of people at the CORE shop. With Colin, Romain and Loïc rejoining us in 2019, I am super confident that we’ll find success.”
Both CORE and Starworks Motorsport had been in discussions last month to campaign Nissan DPis next year, although Sportscar365 understands a barrier of entry had been with the teams and Nissan reaching a marketing agreement with IMSA to retain the car’s eligibility.
ESM had previously funded the majority of the marketing commitment required by IMSA.
Details of the arrangement made for 2019 is unclear at the moment.