Anyone wonder what ex-Nissan LMP1 driver Olivier Pla and ex-BMW factory driver Andy Priaulx were up to in 2016? Well, they’re joining ex-Aston Martin ace Stefan Mücke and Guy Who’s Driven Everything Marino Franchitti to pilot Ford Chip Ganassi Racing’s new Ford GT in the World Endurance Championship.
While the video is a bit “all right, fellas, time to put on your serious faces for the serious business race car,” you can see the drivers’ eyes light up a bit when they discuss driving the car. Wouldn’t you? It seems Ford’s newest toy is rather fun to play with!
If Ford’s Multimatic-backed Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge Mustang program that entered mid-last year is any indication, Ford doesn’t enter things half-baked. Hopefully the Ford GT also a well-developed car that’s reasonably competitive from the start, too. (Pla’s had enough of the other way of doing things, I think.)
Ford Performance global director Dave Pericak had this to say of the new team in a team press release:
Make no mistake, we are racing to win. To compete at this level you need the best car, the best team and the best drivers, and we have selected Stefan, Olivier, Andy and Marino to drive the Ford GT to take on the best in the world.
According to Chip Ganassi Racing, Ford is campaigning four Ford GTs total: two in the World Endurance Championship and two in the IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car Championship (formerly Tudor United Sports Car) with the hopes of campaigning both teams and all four cars in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Who’s joining on the IMSA side, then? Their regular-season lineup will include Ryan Briscoe, Richard Westbrook, Dirk Müller and Joey Hand, per IMSA. Hand comes from last year’s Ford Chip Ganassi Prototype effort, and Briscoe is a former Ganassi racer from their IndyCar team with several major endurance races to his name. Müller comes over from the BMW Team RLL Z4 IMSA team, and Westbrook comes from a factory Chevrolet drive. There’s another ridiculously talented line-up.
For the 24 Hours of Daytona, Ford announced that ex-Formula One and current IndyCar driver Sébastien Bourdais and Stefan Mücke will join the IMSA team for the big race. Bourdais won the 2014 24 Hours of Daytona in a Prototype, making him a no-brainer to add this year. This puts Mücke in the car before the WEC season begins, which is smart.
Can we see that squad giggling giddily about the car next? Please advise, Ford. You can skip the stern looks of drivers staring into a camera and just go right to the “holy crap, this race car rules” part.
Also, send more footage of this thing on track, please. It looks and sounds fantastic.
Photo credit: Chip Ganassi Racing
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