Photo: CORE autosport

CORE autosport steps up to Prototype in 2018 with Oreca 07

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After a single year in the GT Daytona class with a Porsche 911 GT3 R, CORE autosport will return to its Prototype roots next season in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, and compete in the series’ highest level of competition.

The team announced Thursday an entry into Prototype for the 2018 season with an Oreca 07 chassis and the same driver lineup of Jon Bennett and Colin Braun. Prototype could well be in the mid-to-high double digit range at this juncture.

This will mean CORE autosport as a team will have run in Prototype, Prototype Challenge and GT Daytona, and also been involved in GT Le Mans as the operating arm of the Porsche North America program for its Porsche 911 RSRs.

CORE’s full release and quick video are below.

Five-time Prototype Challenge Champions CORE autosport will move to the Prototype Class for the 2018 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship with an ORECA 07 LMP2 and drivers Jon Bennett and Colin Braun.

CORE makes the switch to the P category after six seasons in the PC class (2011 – 2013 American Le Mans Series; 2014 – 2016 IMSA) and the current IMSA season in the GT Daytona class.

“Our start at CORE was with prototypes in 2010,” driver and team owner Bennett said. “It feels good to get back to our roots and progressing as a team.

“We’ve spent the past season watching with interest how the competition and budgets would shake out in the re-vamped Prototype category. We are encouraged to see the growth and competitiveness in this premier class and look forward to our debut at the 2018 Rolex 24 at Daytona.”

The Prototype class features both P2 and DPi-style cars racing together. The ORECA 07 LMP2 falls into the P2 group. CORE already has a successful history with ORECA, running the ORECA FLM09 chassis in all six years of its PC program.

“We are of course really happy to have CORE autosport joining the ORECA family in LMP2,” Hugues de Chaunac, President Group ORECA said. “Actually, it feels like the team is coming back home because of the long-term relationship we have since the involvement in Prototype Challenge. Jon Bennett, Morgan Brady and the whole CORE autosport team have done such a great job in IMSA that we are looking forward to working together with the ORECA 07.”

Both Pro-Pro and Pro-Am driver lineups are allowed in the Prototype class, which races at all the 2018 IMSA venues except for the GT-only events at Lime Rock Park and VIRginia International Raceway.

CORE will finish the 2017 season in GTD with the No. 54 Porsche 911 GT3 R, including this weekend’s Monterey Grand Prix and the Petit Le Mans season finale in October. The team expects to take delivery of its ORECA by the end of the year.

“We’ve enjoyed our experience in GTD with Porsche and expect the Prototype class to be no less competitive,” CORE COO Morgan Brady said. “The potential to win races like Daytona and Sebring, overall, is something we’re all looking forward to. No doubt this transition will be a lot of work, but everyone at CORE has proven time and again that they are up to the challenge.”

The 2018 IMSA season begins with the Rolex 24 at Daytona, January 25 – 28, at Daytona International Speedway.

Valtteri Bottas wins chaotic season-opening F1 Austrian Grand Prix

Mark Thompson/Getty Images
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SPIELBERG, Austria — Valtteri Bottas won a chaotic season-opening F1 Austrian Grand Prix while six-time series champion Lewis Hamilton finished fourth after getting a late time penalty Sunday.

The Formula One race was interrupted three times by a safety car, and nine of 20 drivers abandoned, including both Red Bulls of Max Verstappen and Alexander Albon – who tried to overtake Hamilton on the outside with 10 laps left, touched wheels and flew off track.

Hamilton was given a 5-second time penalty for causing the collision, having earlier been hit with a three-place grid penalty after an incident in Saturday’s qualifying was reviewed by stewards.

SHOW OF SUPPORT: Drivers take knee before race

Bottas led all 71 laps in the eighth victory of his career. It was the second consecutive victory in the season opener for the Finn, though he won four months earlier in 2019 after this season’s start was delayed by the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Lando Norris of McLaren F1 celebrates after his first podium finish (Mark Thompson/Getty Images).

Bottas started from pole position and Hamilton from fifth, but it looked like a straight fight between the two Mercedes drivers as has been the case so often in recent years.

But late drama in Spielberg ensured otherwise and Hamilton’s time penalty meant Charles Leclerc took second place for Ferrari, and Lando Norris sent McLaren’s garage into raptures – and threw all social distancing rules out of the window amid the euphoria – with third place.

It was the 20-year-old British driver’s first career podium, and his superb final lap was the fastest of a dramatic season opener.

Norris became the youngest British driver to secure a podium finish and the third-youngest ever in Formula One.

Valtteri Bottas leads Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton during the Formula One Grand Prix of Austria (Mark Thompson/Getty Images).