Despite making its 24 Hours of Le Mans debut, CORE autosport CEO Morgan Brady believes the team’s previous experience and success Stateside, combined with Porsche’s track record in the race, has put them in a good position to fight for GTE-Pro class honors.
The Rock Hill, S.C.-based team, which operates Porsche’s works GT Le Mans class effort in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, has made its first trip to France to represent the German manufacturer as part of its four-car factory assault.
It comes after racking up multiple wins and championships in North America for the brand over the last four years, led by Brady and team owner Jon Bennett.
“I think for anybody that’s involved at any level of sports car racing, Le Mans is halo target for everybody,” Brady told Sportscar365. “For us, it’s always been on the radar.
“To be here and to be representing Porsche as part of a four-car operation in conjunction with the 70-year anniversary of Porsche, it doesn’t get any better.”
The plan to take Porsche’s American squad to Le Mans was conceived following the withdrawal of its LMP1 program and a shifting of resources to GT racing.
While announced at the Porsche “Night of Champions” dinner in Germany, the green light was officially given in February with the confirmation of the Nos. 93 and 94 Porsche entries by the ACO.
Brady said the teamwork between his crew and Manthey Racing, which operate the two full-season FIA World Endurance Championship entries under the same Porsche GT Team banner, has helped the process immensely.
“From the minute we got approval for this program, CORE and Manthey have worked hand-in-hand to get here,” he said.
“We owe a big debt of gratitude to the Manthey guys for all the preparation, to be able to show up here and have your garage organized and have all the equipment and logistics [sorted].”
While having received support from both Manthey and ex-LMP1 Porsche staff, Brady admits it has been an adjustment process for his crew, who are largely Le Mans rookies.
He said only 20-25 percent of the CORE staff have previous experience working the race.
“The car is the car,” Brady said. “We know the car and we’ve had a little bit of experience with the [Michelin Le Mans-spec] tire.
“But really, it’s more operationally. We don’t [normally] work in garages.
“It’s been [about] getting familiar of operating the car on skates and the changes around pit stop procedures.”
Driver Experience Paying Dividends
The team, however, has been able to bank on the experience of its six drivers, which combine for 45 previous Le Mans starts, including eight overall wins.
“The most experienced guys in the team might be the drivers,” Nick Tandy told Sportscar365.
“We come over and do the guest driver roles every year but the team doesn’t, so they’ve always been watching.
“I know a lot of [the crew] have always wanted to come and for a lot of them, it’s their first time. You see they’re excited, which makes you excited. It’s good to have the motivation.”
While three-time and reigning Le Mans winner Timo Bernhard shares the No. 94 car with Romain Dumas and Sven Mueller, Earl Bamber has joined the full-season GTLM pairing of Tandy and Patrick Pilet in the No. 93 Porsche.
Not only are the duo working with the same crew, in identical roles as in IMSA, but they’re also utilizing the same Porsche chassis that took them to class victory at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring in March.
“I feel at home because the team is my family,” Pilet said. “We have a really strong team, even if it’s their first time, I’m not scared about performance or whatever.
“Gary [Davies], our engineer, doesn’t have a lot of [Le Mans] experience, so he’s been asking many, many questions.
“We’ve just been trying to give our input, our ideas and experience from the past just to avoid any issues and just give him more confidence on what he has to do.
“We’re really focused on what we have to do and just looking forward. It’s been a long time since we’ve been waiting for this.”