Something that we've suspected for a number of months has finally come to pass. Today, in a press release trackside at the Circuit of the Americas, Porsche and CORE Autosport announced a partnership for the 2014 inaugural United SportsCar Racing championship. In a similar play to the World Endurance Championship campaign, Porsche Motorsport has teamed with a proven successful racing organization to provide a Works supported effort for next season, and the elected team is COmposite REsources.
Previous inquiries to the possibility of this eventuality had been met with corporate speak just shy of outright denial. As we have become accustomed to, Porsche's denial of anything motorsport-based has become almost an omen of upcoming decisions. Most of what they tell us won't happen eventually comes to pass. 🙂
As luck would have it, FLATSIXES.com is currently at the Circuit of the Americas, and we were able to grab a few initial reactions from those involved. We are, like you, ultimately interested in learning who the drivers will be, as this has not yet been announced. CORE Autosport's PR department has indicated that CORE themselves do not yet know who will be driving for the team next year, and no decision has been made yet as to the future of the team's current LMP Challenge class campaign. Patrick Long, accosted by yours truly shortly after the announcement, said much of the same; after probed about his prospects for driving in 2014, Long stated "I think the reason Germany decides to keep me around is because I'm good at keeping my mouth shut, but if you follow the logic, I think the outcome is pretty clear". [We like, and agree with, Patrick's logic]
With this announcement, Porsche will potentially be fielding four factory supported 991 RSR (two in the USCR, and two continuing in the WEC), as well as the launch of the LMP1 factory team. It is not currently known how many LMP1 cars will be fielded, or in what capacity they will contest the season, but I would guess that a 2 car team will be a safe bet, with a possible third for "the big one" at Le Mans. Porsche currently has 11 factory works drivers on the roster, with Mark Webber being the 12th when he joins at the end of the year. 12 drivers will certainly not be enough to support a six to seven car worldwide program, so now the important question is, who will be drafted to join the team?
Can Porsche lure the ever-present Scotsman Allan McNish back to the team from his place at Audi after all these years? Will American Porsche junior team driver Connor Di Fillippe be pulled up to the big leagues to run in the USCR on home soil? Is Madison Snow still too young to join the factory team, or is his youth and proven speed to his advantage? Current CORE driver, Colin Braun, has proven quick in an RSR; perhaps his familiarity with the team will help him win the seat for next season. Not much is currently known about the driver lineup, and all of this is admittedly speculation, but we will bring you more as the story develops.
2014 United Sports Car Racing Schedule
In other USCR related news, the series has announced both a title sponsor and timing partner in Tudor, as well as the full season schedule for next season. Starting off with a bang, two back to back endurance giants in the Daytona 24 and the Sebring 12 hour form the first two races on the schedule. Interestingly, the Daytona 24 has long been sponsored by Rolex watches, so will that fall away with Tudor sponsorship joining the series? The Long Beach Grand Prix will feature only the Prototype class and the GTLM class in a two hour tussle on the streets. Laguna Seca will host all four classes, but the Detroit Bell Isle event will drop the GTLM class, as the factory supported Corvettes and Vipers are likely to be otherwise engaged at Le Mans that weekend. The 6 hours of the Glen, a North-bound trip to Mosport (Sorry, it's Canadian Tire Motorsports Park now...), Road America, and Indianapolis all return to the schedule with all four classes present. An Oaktree-free Virginia International Raceway will play host to the series with a double header, but with the two GT classes contesting one race, and the LMPC cars playing the other. A return to COTA one year from now is a welcome calendar spot, and the series will finish out at Road Atlanta for the Petit Le Mans.
The North American Endurance Championship, currently played by the Grand Am guys, will return for 2014, with NAEC points paid out at Daytona, Sebring, Indianapolis, Watkins Glen, and Road Atlanta. Notable tracks missing from the current schedule include Baltimore (Ed. Note - Thank Goodness), Lime Rock Park, and Mid Ohio Sportscar Course. While each of these tracks had some plusses, the end result is an exciting schedule.
Other Porsche Related Blog Posts You Will Enjoy
Win a Patrick Long and Tom Kimber-Smith Autographed Hat and T-Shirt Combo
Watch a Porsche 911 GT3 RSR Being Built in Timelapse
Pictures, Specs and Pricing for the 911 GT America Built for 2014 United Sports Car Racing Series