The stars of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship were shining throughout the race and on the podium at Le Mans.
The Ford Chip Ganassi Ford GT of Joey Hand, Dirk Muller and Sebastien Bourdais took the prestigious GTE-Pro (GT-LM) class win after a relentless battle with the Risi Ferrari of Giancarlo Fisichella, Toni Vilander and Matteo Malucelli.
Rounding out the IMSA sweep of the podium was the CGR Ford GT of Ryan Briscoe and Richard Westbrook, joined at Le Mans by Scott Dixon.
There was also an IMSA triumph in the GTE-Am class as the Scuderia Corsa team with drivers Jeff Segal, Bill Sweedler and Townsend Bell winning.
The stars were out from the start at Le Mans. Four members of the French military rappelled from a helicopter to present honorary starter Brad Pitt with the starting flag.
Keanu Reeves, Jackie Chan, Patrick Dempsey and Jason Statham were there along with FIA president Jean Todt and ACO’s Pierre Fillon. Statham’s appearance at the start was especially fitting as his memorable line from Audi’s documentary, “Truth in 24” is “it always rains at Le Mans”.
Sure enough, minutes before the start the rains arrived, but after 52 minutes behind the safety car the track was drying and remained dry for the duration.
Taking in the early morning quiet in the team’s pit box early in the Le Mans race week, Risi Competizione Ferrari team principal, Giuseppe Risi, shared a quietly confident smile and confided, “The boys tell me that we are ready.”
Indeed they were as the Risi car outran the Ferrari FIA WEC team and led the race at the 12 and 18 hour marks before finishing second, the only non-Ford in the top four.
Heartbreak for Toyota
There was heartbreak at Le Mans as the race leading Toyota, poised to prevail over the defending champions from Porsche, lost power with just four minutes remaining and yielded the victory to Porsche’s Neel Jani, Romain Dumas and Marc Lieb.
Celebrating Ford’s return to Le Mans on the milestone anniversary of its 1966 win were Ford Chairman Bill Ford, President and CEO Mark Fields, Head of Technology and Product Development Raj Nair, the heads of Ford N.A. and Ford of Europe, Edsel Ford and Henry Ford III.