DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Jan. 28, 2018) – In it’s Prototype class debut, CORE autosport charged through the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship field to take the final podium spot at the Rolex 24 at Daytona. The No. 54 Flex-Box / Composite Resources ORECA 07 LM P2 was the highest finishing Pro-Am entry and top finishing ORECA.

This year’s IMSA Prototype class could be the most competitive ever, with factory-backed entries from Cadillac, Acura and Mazda, renowned teams like Penske and Joest, and driving support from current Formula 1, IndyCar and World Endurance Championship drivers. Only a handful of teams employ a Pro-Am lineup like CORE, which partners amateur driver Jon Bennett with pros Colin Braun, Romain Dumas and Loïc Duval.

Throughout each driver’s first stint, the car hovered in the top 15; even through a rainstorm in hour five that brought Duval in for a switch to rain tires. In the overnight hours, the No. 54 did fall several laps behind the leaders, but the team remained focused on turning consistent laps, taking care of the car and executing perfect pit stops.

The strategy paid off. Come sunrise, numerous teams had run into mechanical problems or suffered damage from contact, but the No. 54 was up to fourth. In an effort to protect their cars to the finish, the leaders were slowing, but CORE was clicking off its fastest times yet.

In his closing stint, Braun passed the race leader three times to return the car to the lead lap. Moments after returning to the lead lap, the checkered flag was out and CORE was third, a mere 90 seconds behind the winner.

A podium finish at the Rolex 24 in its Prototype debut was reward enough for CORE, but by being the highest finishing Pro-Am entry, all four drivers collected a brand new Rolex watch (the second Rolex Daytona watch for Bennett and Braun who won the Prototype Challenge category in 2014).

The podium finish kicks off the 2018 IMSA season for CORE, which stays in Florida for round two: the 12 Hours of Sebring, March 15 – 17.

Driver: No. 54 ORECA 07 LM P2

“It’s hard to find the words to describe this moment. I knew earlier this week, when I crossed through the Turn Four tunnel, competing in IMSA’s top class, we had a glimmer of a chance of winning this race.

“With all the big names and storylines this week, we put our heads down and stuck to our old formula, which is: staying in our lane, doing our job and let the rest take care of itself. I’m so proud of the team and my co-drivers. It means so much to me, to reach a pinnacle, in terms of the category, and then to do it well. Personally, it is so important and a pleasure to share with the team.

“We belong here. We understand what we’re doing. We understand the category and we’re ready to compete.”

Driver: ORECA 07 LM P2

“What a great race for CORE autosport. It’s our first event with the ORECA LMP2 car and I couldn’t be more proud of my guys. They did a fantastic job in the offseason getting the ORECA all dialed in and then trying to make all four of us happy.

“We had a great race. We didn’t really have any issues. We just stuck to our strategy, drove our own race and didn’t make any mistakes. We got pretty close to a win there at the end and maybe if we had another yellow or two we could have made it happen, but a podium is a good way to start our first Prototype season.”

Driver: No. 54 ORECA 07 LM P2

“It was a good race. What we planned is exactly what happened; except for sure we wanted more yellow flags. The rest was perfect. We had no issues with the car and no mistakes from the team. Jon did a great job. With the pressure he must feel in this class it can’t be easy, so I have lots of respect.

“We are not a factory team and we thought, especially in the first hour, it will be difficult to win if you are not. We were close to a win though. If we knew before the race that we will finish on the podium, we are excited. On the other hand, when we see our speed in the last hours, we want more.”

Driver: No. 54 ORECA 07 LM P2

“We did the race we had to do. We didn’t have the fastest pace, but we were close. We got the maximum out of our car. From the night to the morning we came back six laps and more than 10 positions. Fighting against the manufacturers, as a private team, and being on the podium is great for all of us, but on the other hand we were only 90 seconds from victory. It’s a great achievement for all of us. Everybody did a great job.

“When it rains, you don’t want to lose too much time, but on the other hand, when it’s raining and you have slick tires on, it’s a difficult task. I boxed for rain tires, which were better, but then we came in again for slicks and the track wasn’t completely dry, and you know if you go a millimeter too wide or you brake a second too late, it can be a disaster. In the end, it worked out for us.”