Following on from the top prototype drivers, GT drivers and rookie of the year, Sportscar365’s staff has selected the top-performing team from the world of sports car racing in 2018.
While the team did not collect any championship hardware, the Jon Bennett and Morgan Brady-led operation enjoyed a breakout IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season with key victories in both Prototype and GT Le Mans.
Nick Tandy, Patrick Pilet and Fred Makowiecki took their CORE autosport-run Porsche 911 RSR to class victories at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring and season-ending Motul Petit Le Mans, with teammates Earl Bamber and Laurens Vanthoor winning at Mid-Ohio.
An unlucky midseason streak of races ultimately denied Tandy and Pilet a chance of the GTLM drivers’ championship.
CORE’s bigger revelation, however, came in the Prototype class with Bennett and Colin Braun coming only three points away from pulling off the overall Prototype drivers’ championship, in their Pro-Am crewed Oreca 07 Gibson LMP2 car.
While up against the likes of Acura Team Penske, Mazda Team Joest, Action Express Racing and defending series champions Wayne Taylor Racing, the small privateer crew, led by Brian Colangelo and chief strategist Jeff Braun, punched above its weight all year long.
Among the highlights include victories at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park and Road America, as well as two poles by Braun, who was arguably the star driver in the final year of the combined Prototype class.
A nail-bitting closing hour at Petit Le Mans nearly saw the Rock Hill, S.C.-based team upset the applecart and pull off the championship, although pre-event Balance of Performance fuel capacity changes to LMP2 cars ultimately dashed hopes of the title.
In addition to its dual IMSA program, the team made its 24 Hours of Le Mans debut, operating the second half of Porsche’s four-car GTE-Pro armada, which was victorious in the hands of the Manthey Racing effort.
Honorable Mentions: G-Drive Racing/TDS (ELMS LMP2 champion, WEC pacesetters), Manthey Racing (N24 and Le Mans winners, WEC GTE-Pro points leaders), Black Falcon (Blancpain GT Endurance Cup champions).