Ford DP teams prepping for durability test ahead of Rolex 24

Ford DP teams prepping for durability test ahead of Rolex 24


Ford DP teams prepping for durability test ahead of Rolex 24



Marshall Pruett photos

Plenty of news came out of the Roar Before The 24 test held January 3-5 at Daytona International Speedway, with one of the biggest items belonging to Ford and its EcoBoost turbo-powered DP teams.


Between engine issues for Michael Shank Racing that necessitated a motor change to MSR and Chip Ganassi with Felix Sabates burning through their inventory of exhaust headers, Ford and its two teams made the wise decision to pack up early at the Roar, heading home Saturday night Jan. 4.


An intense amount of work has gone on since the Roar as the Blue Oval and its teams prepare for the Rolex 24 At Daytona race on January 25-26, and according to Ganassi Racing managing director Mike Hull, all of that work will be put to the test a few days before official practice begins at the 3.56-mile facility.


“We had a great learning experience at Daytona – twice – when we were there in December and again at the Roar which gave our team and Ford a lot of directions to go,” Hull told RACER. “I think some of the things we tried were a little too far out on the edge, but the beehive has been buzzing here day and night since then to get ready. And I think the same can be said for all of our partners to allow us to come back to Daytona with a much better package than we had.”


“IMSA’s granted us the right to test prior to the race and we’re going to go to Homestead and get a full day in to do durability running and try some re-engineered products from Ford. Ford will be there to support us and they’ve been working 24/7 on the dynos with the EcoBoost engines since the Roar test. We’ve been rehearsing the 24-hour race day and night here at the Ganassi shop since we got back and I can tell you no one is complaining. Everyone has their head down working away to get these cars ready to race and it has been a pleasure to watch our guys go about their jobs and the task at hand with such enthusiasm and effort.”

Evaluating new headers, among other items, will be part of the Homestead test.


“We’re relying on Ford, who’s done multiple 24-hour tests on their transient dynos, for longevity on the EcoBoost engines,” Hull continued. “The weakness we had was in the exhaust system and the effective use of the fuel with a turbocharged engine – when you’re trying to make power and push the mapping to the edge – you always leave fuel in the exhaust (to keep the compressor spinning when off throttle). When that happens, you have these miniature explosions with the unburned fuel, and they always seem to find any weakness in the exhaust design. So what you do to remedy that is you alter the design of the exhaust and how it’s manufactured.


“And the engine builder then alters the engine mapping to burn as much fuel as possible before it reaches the exhaust, which might not be as aggressive as you’d want to be on making power, but for the 24-hour race, it’s a concession you have to make. If you look at the time we completed on the track with the exhausts, we were completing sprint races, but adjustments had to be made in order to complete an endurance race. We’ve been on conference calls every day with our engine partner working on that strategy for the race. When we go to Homestead, we’ll test like we’re racing at Daytona.”


MSR team owner Michael Shank (LEFT) will also be at the Homestead test, and says he’ll use the time to monitor the activity while his crew completes preparations on their car. What’s learned by Ford and Ganassi will then be applied to Shank’s car ahead of the Rolex 24.


“We’ll be there to support the test, but won’t have our car there,” Shank told RACER. “It’s flat-out; it’s unprecedented in my 20-plus years in the sport to have this kind of effort to get there – to have Ford, Roush Yates Engines, Ganassi and ourselves all pulling together on such a short timeline get ready for the Rolex 24.


“Everyone is committed to being there and being prepared. Right now, we have to get through some tough stuff while we’re learning, but I have every confidence Ford and our other partners will have this program ready to race.”



Tune in for the 52nd Rolex 24 At Daytona at the following times:


Saturday, Jan. 25

2-4 p.m. ET on FOX (Live)
4-9 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 2 (Live)
Overnight (Jan. 25-26)
9 p.m. – 7 a.m. ET on (includes live images, in-car cameras and announcers)
Sunday, Jan. 26
7 a.m. – 3 p.m. on FOX Sports 1 (Live)


Tune in for the Daytona season opener at the following time:

Friday, Jan. 24

6 p.m. on FOX Sports 2 (Same Day)