CORE autosport confirms GTD switch for 2017

Photo: CORE autosport
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CORE autosport has revealed the mystery of what its 2017 plans would be for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, and the five-time Prototype Challenge champions will shift to GT Daytona with a Porsche 911 GT3 R.

The move makes sense; the PC class is set to be eliminated after 2017 anyway and without a planned Prototype class step-ladder – even though Pro-Am lineups are eligible within IMSA’s new look Prototype class featuring DPi machinery plus 2017 and 2016-spec LMP2 cars next year – the Jon Bennett-led team is instead strengthening its relationship with Porsche.

CORE operates the Porsche North America Porsche 911 RSRs in the GT Le Mans class and this gives them a natural foothold in two classes.

Meanwhile, as a result of this news, CORE is withdrawing its PC car for Bennett and longtime co-driver Colin Braun for the final two races of 2016. That’s a slight hit to the PC class, but also frees up the class title protagonists from Starworks Motorsport, PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports and JDC/Miller Motorsports to be in the spotlight.

The team’s full release is below, confirming the Porsche while also ending the speculation whether it would be a GT versus LMP program (see the tweet from the team below)

Five-time IMSA Prototype Challenge Champions CORE autosport will move to the GT Daytona class for the 2017 WeatherTech SportsCar Championship with a Porsche 911 GT3 R.

Knowing the PC class will be eliminated from the WeatherTech Championship in 2018, CORE evaluated multiple options for the future of its sports car program.  Ultimately, the team decided that a switch to the GTD class in a Porsche 911 GT3 R made the most sense.

The switch from PC to GTD means CORE will continue to compete in a pro-am class. The choice of Porsche was a natural fit considering CORE’s history of running a customer Porsche entry in 2013, team owner/driver Jon Bennett’s experience in the 2013 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge, and CORE’s multi-year partnership with Porsche to run the German marque’s factory GTLM program.

“The move to GTD evolved pretty naturally,” Bennett said. “We knew we wanted to compete at a pro-am level. The competition in GTD is incredible and we’ve had a relationship with Porsche for four years now, so the 911 GT3 R stood out as a smart choice. As a Porsche owner myself, I’m really excited about the opportunity to team up with Colin Braun and race one.”

CORE has already begun preparations for its 2017 GTD debut, and as a result it has elected to withdraw its No. 54 Flex-Box/Composite Resources ORECA FLM09 from the remaining IMSA rounds at Circuit of the Americas and Road Atlanta.

“At CORE, we place a high value on preparation, and I don’t think we can go into 2017 as prepared as we need to be if we’re distracted by the final two PC rounds,” CORE autosport COO Morgan Brady said. “The first IMSA-sanctioned test at Daytona is only two months away and the 2017 season kicks off with a 24-hour race; we can’t be tying up loose ends when the green flag drops.”

CORE’s PC program concludes with five-straight team titles (2011 – 2015), four driver titles (2011, 2012, 2014, 2015), 16 pole positions and 20 class wins. The team is currently third in the 2016 PC Team points. Bennett and Braun are fourth in the PC Driver points.

Without a PC entry at Circuit of the Americas, Bennett will travel to Seattle, Washington, this weekend to compete in the latest Red Bull Global Rallycross event at Evergreen Speedway (Scott Anderson was just announced in the team’s other car just now as well).

Ken Roczen signs with HEP Progressive Ecstar Suzuki for 2023

Roczen Progressive Ecstar Suzuki
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ANAHEIM, California – Ken Roczen will make the move from HRC Honda to H.E.P. Motorsports with the Progressive Ecstar Suzuki team, ending a long and eventful offseason that saw his split from his longstanding team after he committed to running World Supercross (WSX).

“H.E.P. Motorsports is thrilled to announce that the team has signed Ken Roczen as its premier rider for the 2023 season,” the team announced on Instagram. “Former AMA Motocross champion Roczen will be aboard a Suzuki RM-Z450. Roczen, who won his most recent championship on a Suzuki, will be reunited with the brand and bring his exciting style, determination, and grit back to the RM Army.

“Ken Roczen will compete in the upcoming 2023 Supercross and Motocross Championship series which is set to start on January 7 at Anaheim Stadium in Southern California.”

For Roczen, it is a return to the bike of his youth and on which he had some of his greatest professional success.

“This thing has been going on for weeks and weeks and weeks in the making, but there was so much uncertainty,” Roczen told NBC Sports during Monster Energy Supercross Media Sessions. “It was a very unique situation. I just finally signed two nights ago, so it’s really only legit once the ink hits the paper. It’s been in the works for a long time, but there were just a lot of questions and a lot of input from a lot of other teams too.

“Good things take time, and I’m okay with that. I grew up riding Suzuki. Ot’s like a homecoming. It’s a special feeling”

Roczen won the 2016 Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championship on a Suzuki before making the move to Honda. That year he won nine of 12 Nationals and finished no worse than second as he easily outpaced Eli Tomac by 86 points. He finished third in his next Pro Motocross outing in 2018 after sitting out the outdoor season in 2017.

“I am beyond excited to reconnect with Suzuki for the 3rd time in my career. We’ve had a lot of success in the past and I’m looking forward to seeing what we can accomplish together in our future.” Roczen said in the Instagram post.