The Alley

Ford takes first victory with the new GT

ford_wins_laguna_1Ford has taken a stunning victory at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca – its first in international sportscar competition for the new Ford GT.

While the car has a large Ford Ecoboost sticker on the side of the car, today the Chip Ganassi Racing sportscar squad demonstrated it was more than just a decal.

Ryan Briscoe and Richard Westbrook took the victory with a brilliant fuel economy run to the finish. The No.67 Ford made its final stop with one hour, 17 minutes remaining under a yellow flag safety car period. While the No.66 Ford of Joey Hand and the No.3 Corvette of Antonio Garcia had to pit with only minutes remaining – Westbrook was able to continue to the flag.

RD1_8263The pole position winner Scuderia Corsa Ferrari of Alessandro Pier Guidi and Daniel Serra took second ahead of the Porsche of Fred Makowiecki and Earl Bamber.

“It’s just so exciting. Its been a tough few months getting this program running,” Briscoe said.

“These guys have been working so hard. We’ve struggled with battles. We struggled a bit with balance but figured it out. We struggled really well, just missed the pole, and to get the win for Ford is huge.

“It means a lot for me and the whole program. It gives us some great momentum going into the next race in France.”

The victory today was Briscoe’s third in IMSA competition and the fourth for Westbrook (including three overall wins). Ford is running dual programs with the Ford GT – one in the US in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and a second FIA World Endurance Championship campaign.

For the 24 Hours of Le Mans, both squads will come together for a four-car assault.

“Today just seemed to be our day. Qualified on the first row. Then we went into saving fuel. We had a problem in the pit stop so we had to get that back,”
Westbrook said.

“So we thought we couldn’t stop again to make it up. So it was up to the track and saving fuel. We didn’t know if it was possible. But we showed the pace that we can and we didn’t make any big mistakes.

ford_wins_laguna_5“Getting to the point where we are now is really incredible. Everyone at Ford and the team working so hard. Now we’ll take this on to the next race in France.

Westbrook was able to get the Ford GT to victory lane despite a major issue during it’s single stop. Remarkably, the No.67 Ford was the only GTLM car to complete the race on a single stop.

“We just got stuck in first gear. And you need to get it into neutral and I couldn’t, so it cost us 5 or 6 seconds and 5 or 6 positions, and you aren’t going to drive it to the front from that position,” Westbrook said.

“So thats what you get when you race with Chip Ganassi, you get out of the box solutions and it was a great strategy call to get us up to the front.

“The new Michelin tire has been really good for our car, we have to consider it’s Laguna Seca, its not Le Mans, there isn’t sand at the Le Mans and certainly this much sunshine. But the tire is working really well for us.”


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