Ford’s ongoing testing and development activities with its new twin-turbo V6 GT swung through Sebring this week, and according to Chip Ganassi Racing managing director Mike Hull, plenty was learned in extended night and day running.
“We had a really good test, both with the car that we are running and the car Multimatic is running,” Hull told RACER. “We shared the track with the Mazda P2 program, and we ran all day and we ran a bit in the dark just to see how the car would run with headlights and things like that. I suppose you could simply say it was uneventful because the cars were on track most of the time.
After a long run into the night on Wednesday, the test concluded at 5 p.m. on Thursday and, barring a bit of rain that intervened, Hull (LEFT) says CGR, Multimatic, engine builder Roush Yates, and tire partner Michelin focused on logging as many miles as possible around the celebrated airport road course.
“We just ran and ran, which was our experience at Daytona because the car has been mechanically sound, the engine has been really good for us, the tires have been fantastic, and we’ve been able to log quite a lot of laps and learn quite a bit about the racecar. I would say we are a long way away from having what we would consider at Chip Ganassi Racing to be what we want to race, but we’re certainly moving in the right direction and getting all the moving parts moving in the right direction, too.”
With multiple days of testing in the books at Daytona – site of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s season opener in January – the shift to Sebring where Round 2 will be held in March was a natural choice. CGR won the 12 Hours of Sebring in 2014 with Ford’s EcoBoost Daytona Prototype, but with the DP set to be replaced by a the new EcoBoost-powered GT model, the team is starting from scratch on chassis setup information.
“Well, first of all, we race here, so we learn a lot about what we’re going to need to do to tune the car throughout the day, and the race starts here in the morning and goes into the night, so there’s a lot of conditions to sample and understand,” Hull said. “We start testing in the morning, test all day long, and since it’s not a sprint race, we come here to experience the racetrack in all the conditions we’ll see when we race.”
Joey Hand was one of a few known drivers from the CGR/Multimatic camp present for the test, and according to one source, Ganassi IndyCar veteran Ryan Briscoe was also spotted with the team. Along with another driver who quietly participated in the recent Daytona test, and a French media outlet suggesting Sebastien Bourdais is signed to do the handful of endurance races with Ford, the veil of secrecy surrounding the Blue Oval’s GT roster continues to build interest on who will be confirmed for 2016.
“We’re working on Ford’s driverless car program,” Hull said with a big laugh when asked about the pending GT driver announcements. “The best way to answer that right now, for me, and for our team, is Ford’s working on the completion of the driver lineup, and once it is complete with them, it’ll come to us.”