Photo: Courtesy of IMSA

DEHARDE: CORE Autosport Survived Daytona

By Christopher DeHarde, Staff Writer

Let’s face it, CORE Autosport were at the short end of the stick.

The team announced on November 30th that the team would be switching to the Nissan DPi platform after Extreme Speed Motorsports pulled out. That gave the team just over a month to get everything prepared for the Roar Before the 24, iron out any kinks in the car and prepare for the Rolex 24 at Daytona with team owner Jon Bennett driving alongside Colin Braun, Loic Duval and Romain Dumas.

Then comes the race and the team starts tenth out of 11 cars in the DPi class with only the No. 5 Action Express Racing Cadillac DPi not participating in qualifying. Going up against the Mazda duo, the Acura duo and the Cadillac sextet isn’t an easy proposition for the lone rangers from Rock Hill, South Carolina.

But that’s the challenge the CORE group undertook and undertake it they did. The team had many issues during the race, including a flat tire about an hour and a half into the race. After the pit stop to change that flat tire, the team were dealt a pit road speeding penalty and had to perform a drive-through penalty. More pressing than those issues was a gearbox problem as Jeff Braun elaborated about on his Instagram page.

“My four data and electronics guys saved our race by writing computer code while the car was failing on track and then reprogramming two onboard computers during a pit stop to keep the gearbox operating,” said Braun.

That was nearly 11 hours into the race and the team lost around seven laps in the pits fixing that issue. That was also before the rain.

When the rains came down, CORE Autosport had more difficulties. Romain Dumas spun and had contact with the tire barrier that removed the rear wing from the car and necessitated a lengthier pit stop than normal to repair the rear of the car. But there were more issues.

There was another spin and another pit road speeding penalty but the team still kept going and finished fourth, having been down as far as 13th early in the race.

Attention during the race was focused on numerous other stories, and for good reason. Alex Zanardi raced in the U.S. for the first time in a long time. Fernando Alonso raced for Wayne Taylor Racing in an all star lineup. Alexander Rossi drove for Team Penske while a new team made its debut with Lexus and scored a podium. However, CORE Autosport was overlooked by many, this writer included.

Finishing a 24 hour race after running an entirely different car the previous year should be commended and CORE Autosport should be proud of their effort, as should Nissan. Nissan won twice in 2018, CORE Autosport won twice in 2018. With the right circumstances, CORE Autosport can (and should) win more.

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A 2012 graduate of LSU, Christopher DeHarde primarily focuses on the NTT IndyCar Series and the WeatherTech Sports Car Championship. DeHarde has actively covered motorsports since 2014.