The farewell performance for Ford Chip Ganassi Racing as a factory program at Le Mans came up short of the team’s own lofty expectations, although it did serve to demonstrated the clockwork reliability of the Ford GT as the the four-car squad finished together in the GTE Pro standings in fourth, fifth, sixth and seventh places, while, Ford’s first GT customer program, Keating Motorsports, scored a debut victory in GTE Am.
“It’s definitely bittersweet because we would have loved to gone out with a win in the GTE Pro class here at Le Mans,” said Mark Rushbrook, global director, Ford Performance Motorsports. “But all four cars finished strongly and our first customer team in Keating Motorsports won its first race in GTE Am so there are a lot of positives to take away. We accomplished a lot with this program in a very short time frame and that’s a credit to the Ford GT being a great race car, but also having great drivers and partners like Chip Ganassi Racing, Multimatic and Roush Yates.”
First among the Ganassi-run cars in fourth was the No. 68 GT of Sebastien Bourdais, Dirk Muller and Joey Hand, who had previously earned Ford’s Le Mans victory in 2016.
“The start wasn’t great for us,” said Le Mans native Bourdais. “We struggled with the car on low tire pressures and got some bad breaks with the safety car periods. The timing just didn’t go our way. I don’t think that really would have changed the outcome for us too much, but we managed to close the gap a lot and regain over a second, which we were happy about. We were just pushing really hard and I think it was just the way the timing played out for us. We were all hoping for a full-course caution scenario to play out, but they didn’t call it that way.”
“Unfortunately when they went to the Safety Car period instead, that was one of the things that really hurt our chances to fight back. I don’t know if it would have been enough for us to come back and fight for the win, but maybe the podium for sure. I’ve really enjoyed my time in the Ford GT and with this program. The whole team at Ganassi and Ford were great to work with and we had a great group here to race with.”
Ryan Briscoe, who finished sixth in the No. 69 entry he shared with Scott Dixon and Richard Westbrook, also felt the team had done all it could with the cars it was dealt.
“I think we did a really good job with the race car setup here this weekend,” said Briscoe. “The setup on our Ford GT was great. We were able to double-stint tires, as well as run a really good pace out there. I was happy with the way I drove. I think we had a few little issues during the race, but that’s bound to happen over 24 hours — it’s how you deal with that and keep going. The team and the crew did an amazing job and I’m proud of the effort for sure. We ended up going a lap down there toward the later part of the race. Overall it was a good showing but I think we were just lacking on the BoP (balance of performance). It’s hard to overcome that to really have an opportunity to go for the win.”