The Alley

Joey Hand flying high for Ford

hand_coverIt is rather appropriate that Joey Hand will spend this week at an airport, albeit on the racing circuit side of the Sebring Regional Airport.

The 36-year old Californian has spent a lot of time at airports in recent years, with a million mile journey that began in late 2011.

Hand had opened his 2011 scorecard aboard the race winning BMW powered Chip Ganassi Racing Riley prototype at the Rolex 24 At Daytona.

He immediately followed that with the GT class win at the 2011 Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring with his primary team, BMW Team RLL. By season’s end, Hand had claimed the American Le Mans Series GT driver’s championship.

bmw_dtm1-550x366.jpgAs a reward, the BMW factory driver was dispatched to Europe for the famed DTM series aboard a factory BMW (pictured right).

The competition was fierce and so were the travels which included more than 20 overseas trips last year alone. “I flew about 325,000 miles last year,” says Hand, who will stay on this side of the pond for most of 2015.

Now, there is a new plan and it involves more than Hand’s frequent flyer mileage.

Hand is traveling across the paddock to rejoin Chip Ganassi Racing, now with Ford, for the 2015 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship aboard the Ford EcoBoost Daytona Riley Prototype.

Teamed here with legendary Scott Pruett and IndyCar champion Scott Dixon, he is looking to add an overall victory to his pair of Sebring GT class victories. While V8 engines have traditionally dominated Prototype competition, the new Ford EcoBoost turbocharged V6 showed considerable promise and development in the 2014 TUDOR Championship with the Ganassi Ford EcoBoost team winning three races including Sebring.

Demonstrating that progress, the Ganassi team opened the 2015 TUDOR Championship with the victory in the Rolex 24 At Daytona with Dixon, Tony Kanaan, Jamie McMurray and Kyle Larson aboard.

A boarding pass for the top of the podium here at Sebring will likely require a near perfect 12 Hour run.

Hand, Pruett and Dixon will be the sole Ford entry, facing 13 top Prototype competitors from Chevrolet, Honda, Mazda, BMW, Judd and the Elan powered DeltaWing.

Leading the powerful Corvette DP fleet is the 2014 TUDOR Championship winning Action Express Racing team with Christian Fittipaldi, Joao Barbosa and Sebastien Bourdais, now joined at Action Express by the Whelen Corvette DP of Eric Curran, Dane Cameron and Max Papis.

hand_helmetLooking to fight back from a major disappointment that saw its apparent podium finish at Daytona tossed due to a drive time violation, the Wayne Taylor Racing team blends young stars Jordan and Ricky Taylor with the masterful Max Angelelli.

They are joined by the Chevrolet V8 powered brigade of Richard Westbrook, Michael Valiante and Mike Rockenfeller at VisitFlorida.com Racing.

Honda arrives at Sebring with a triple punch. Michael Shank Racing showed considerable speed at Daytona with its new Ligier Honda. The Daytona pole winners add Justin Wilson to the rotation along with Ozz Negri and John Pew.

Scott Sharp’s Tequila Patrón ESM Honda team sees Sharp joined in their HPD Honda by Ryan Dalziel and David Heinemeier Hansson with teammates Ed Brown, Johannes van Overbeek and Jon Fogarty in the #2.

A season of development is also paying off for SpeedSource Mazda. The diesel team has made dramatic strides forward and now features Jonathan Bomarito with Tristan Nunez and Sylvain Tremblay in the #70 and Tom Long, Joel Miller and Ben Devlin in the #07 sister car.

BMW counters with Starworks Motorsport and the fleet Brendon Hartley and Scott Mayer together with the Fifty Plus Racing squad featuring Dorsey Schroeder.

Krohn Racing has Nic Jonsson and Olivier Pla teamed with team owner Tracy Krohn in a new Judd powered Ligier prototype, while the radical DeltaWing of Memo Rojas (2014 Sebring race winning co-driver), Katherine Legge and Andy Meyrick has an Elan powerplant.

The 12 hour continuous flight around the bumpy 3.74 miles of Sebring International Raceway is ready for takeoff. Fasten your seat belts and enjoy the ride.

hand_livery

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