CORE autosport’s long-awaited debut in the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón’s GT category will take place this week in Monterey, Calif., at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. Porsche factory star Patrick Long and three-time 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Tom Kimber-Smith will race the No. 06 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR for the first time.
"The addition of a multi-time American Le Mans Series class champion to the ranks of Porsche 911 GT3 RSR competitors is very exciting for Porsche Motorsport,” said Jens Walther, president and CEO of Porsche Motorsport North America. “CORE autosport has shown themselves to be among the elite of professional race teams and with the driver lineup of Patrick Long and Tom Kimber-Smith, I see the program continuing its impressive history in the very competitive ALMS GT class."
When CORE’s Porsche takes to the track in Monterey for the third round of the ALMS championship, it will be riding on Michelin tires, a brand whose record of success in ALMS GT competition is unparalleled. The partnership between CORE and Michelin is already a proven winner: CORE scored ALMS Prototype Challenge championships in 2011 and 2012 on Michelin tires.
“Certainly, coming in with a known quantity like Michelin is a huge help,” Long said. “It means we have no concerns on the tire side. We know we have the speed and reliability that the front-runners have. People underestimate how important those four contact patches are. You could have a perfect car, but if the tires aren’t working, it’s all for nothing.”
Following January’s announcement that CORE would expand to the GT category in 2013, the team took delivery of its Porsche 911 GT3 RSR shortly before Sebring and has since tackled a testing program with Long and Kimber-Smith. The duo, which has five wins between them at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, most recently spent a day in Alabama testing at Barber Motorsports Park.
“The more time I get to drive it, the quicker I’m getting, but to have Patrick on board—being a factory Porsche man and the history he’s had with Porsche—I couldn’t ask for anyone better to get me up to speed,” said Kimber-Smith. ““CORE is a very young team and in their short time in motorsport, they’ve been very dominant. For me, they don’t need to prove themselves by moving up to GT.”
The team has welcomed several new members to help support the GT program, but the lead engineer for the No. 06 Porsche will be the familiar face of Gary Davies, who moves over from the Prototype Challenge presented by Continental Tire program.
Team owner Jon Bennett said the addition of the GT car is with one eye on the future.
“This year is a bit of a transition for us; with the unified series for 2014, things are going to be changing quite a bit,” Bennett said. “We’re expanding the capabilities of the team to put us in the best position possible for the long term. Our team has a dream of one day going to Le Mans, so one of the attractive parts of the GT program is that it’s a class that’s clearly coordinated with the ACO and the rules package at Le Mans.”
Operating in tandem with the Porsche program, CORE will continue to field the No. 05 Composite Resources ORECA FLM09 in the PC category with Bennett and Colin Braun in their quest for a third straight PC championship.