Ford Chip Ganassi Racing team owner Chip Ganassi is looking forward to the 2018 LeMans 24 Hours. Following a busy month of May in the Verizon IndyCar Series with the IndyCar Grand Prix of Indianapolis and the 102nd running of the Indianapolis 500 presented by PennGrade Motor Oil, Ganassi switches focus to the World Endurance Championship’s centre piece event.
Before the race in LeMans however there is the small matter of the DXC Technology 600 at Texas Motor Speedway where the Chip Ganassi Racing Verizon IndyCar Series team will be hoping to continue their momentum from Detroit where Scott Dixon won the opening race of the weekend, which was the first win for the No.9 PNC Bank crew.
In the second race, Ed Jones who drives the No.10 NTT DATA Honda ended the race on the podium in third place just ahead of Scott Dixon.
Chip Ganassi who will field four Ford GT’s next weekend commented on the LeMans 24 Hours by saying:
The Le Mans 24 Hours is one of those races that you have circled on the calendar. “It has everything. It’s on an historic track in France, it is an endurance race and it is one of the most spectacular events in the world. When you win a race like Le Mans, you know you have accomplished something. It is multiple drivers, crew members and the right manufacturer all coming together. I can’t wait to get back there to compete for another win.
Chip Ganassi Racing’s former driver Tony Kanaan who now drives for AJ Foyt Racing in the Verizon IndyCar Series returns to the team for the 24 Hours of LeMans and will drive the No.67 Ford GT alongside last years LeMans runners up, Harry Tinknall and Andy Priaulx. Speaking ahead of the race, Priaulx said:
The first Le Mans with Ford in 2016 was tough for us as we had a gearbox problem on the grid so our race was almost done before it started. “The second one was great for us though, as we had a really good run and a bit of good fortune on the last lap, taking second place.
“This year’s race looks like it will be the toughest yet, but to win under circumstances like that is amazing. I’d love to stand on the top step at Le Mans; I’ve had a third and a second there and a few years ago I led the race for 23 of the 24 hours! There are another 16 GTE Pro cars, each with three drivers who are all saying the same thing, so it’s going to be a thriller! You learn something new every time you do Le Mans. It’s one of those events that you have to work out. This will be my fifth and every year it’s gets better as you have more experience, but it doesn’t get any easier!
Olivier Pla who will drive the No.66 Ford GT and speaking about the race he said:
The first year at Le Mans with Ford was tough for us in the #66 GT as we lost two laps in the pits, changing the light panel on the door. “We were on the same pace as the other Fords so for sure we missed out on a podium there. Year two was looking really good until around 1 a.m. when we had a rear suspension failure that sent me off at Indianapolis. That cost us around seven laps and that was that!
“Our goal for year three is the same as ever: we want to win! The GTE Pro field has never been so competitive so it would be incredible to win this year. We are a strong team with a strong car and good driving crews. Now we just need to make sure everything is perfect and that the luck goes our way. The more you do it, the better you get at it!
Joey Hand who drives the No.68 Ford GT is looking forward to LeMans:
The first year stands out for me because we won. Ford has this incredible history at Le Mans and now we are part of it. We were able to write our own piece and lock ourselves down in the history books and, for me, that’s pretty cool. As I get older and I’m not driving any more, that’s something that’ll always be there. We weren’t able to race for the win last year so we want to do it this year. You never know how many times you’re going to race at Le Mans so you have to take advantage of every opportunity.
“Every year we get better and better as a team and as you get comfortable, you do better. We know more about this race now, from where we stay, the routine we have, knowing where everything is, knowing how scrutineering works. The more comfortable you are, the less you’re wondering what’s happening next. I’ve always said I think comfort produces results. Everything comes together to produce a result.
Former Verizon IndyCar Series driver Ryan Briscoe who drives the No.69 Ford GT is excited about the LeMans 24 Hours and speaking ahead of the event, the Australian said:
Year one was incredible for us. We had a really strong race with a rookie team performing like absolute champions. To finish with two of our cars on the podium was surreal. I remember the second year we just didn’t have the performance to win the race, so now we want to win! We set the standards pretty high in year one so anything less isn’t a goal anymore. I think we’re off to a great start, winning the Daytona 24 and finishing second with the #66 car.
“It doesn’t really feel different to go to Le Mans in year three. I think on a personal level you never change your approach, no matter how many times you go. The prep work and everything that goes with it is the same. You can’t relax; you can’t feel like it’s year three and take it easy. I think Le Mans, like any big race, will always throw something at you that you’ve never seen before, and that’s what you have to be ready for. I do think year one was extra special. There was a lot about year one: the anticipation of it, the fact it was the 50-year anniversary since 1966, and Ford’s return for the first time since back in the 1960s, which made year one quite unique.
Global Director of Ford Performance Motorsport, Mark Rushbrook commented saying:
It’s rewarding to see all four cars come together as one team every year at Le Mans. “It shows the scale of the global effort we launched in 2016 and have been building on since.
“Le Mans is always the ultimate challenge but this year it has gone up a level through the sheer size of the opposition. We’re going up against the best that Ferrari, Porsche, Aston Martin, Corvette and BMW have to offer and we can’t wait. This is why we race.