It’s going to be extremely difficult for Ford Chip Ganassi Racing to top last year’s performance in the Rolex 24 At Daytona.
The two Ganassi Ford GTs led all but 10 laps en route to a 1-2 finish in the GT Le Mans category in the 2018 event, giving event Grand Marshal and team boss Chip Ganassi his 200th triumph as a car owner. The Fords ran 1-2 for the final 18 hours, 47 minutes, with the No. 67 of Richard Westbrook, Ryan Briscoe and Scott Dixon won by 11.18 seconds over teammates Joey Hand, Dirk Mueller and Sebastien Bourdais in the No. 66 entry.
Despite those statistics, Westbrook said it was a flat-out battle all the way.
“Last year, we had the pace,” Westbrook admitted. “But pace doesn’t mean anything if you can’t execute in a 24-hour race. We definitely had the reliability, and we executed really well. We had no issues on the track or in the pits for both cars.”
Dominance aside, Westbrook looks back at last year’s event as a solid two-car battle.
“It was a straight fight between two Fords,” Westbrook recalled. “We had no team orders. It was flat-out racing for 24 hours. Even though it was Ford-Ford, I thought the race was fascinating from my point of view. We were trying to outsmart our teammate in the pits. Chip’s a racer, and he wanted us to race. We could have taken each other out, but we didn’t. It seemed like ages that we were one second apart. It was fantastic to be part of it.”
Westbrook expects a different scenario for the 2019 edition of the Rolex 24.
“I don’t expect it to be the same this year,” he said. “But that doesn’t necessarily mean it will be a better race. The balance of performance is different. We had an advantage here last year. Maybe it was a grip thing; we seemed to be able to take off when the others couldn’t get that foot down coming out of the corners, which is so important here. It’s going to be closer this year. We’ve got a new tire this year, and it’s going to be important to see which manufacturer, which team is going to make that tire work.”