- #67 Ford GT finishes ‘6 Hours of Mexico’ in fifth place
- #66 Ford GT takes seventh place after a troubled run
MEXICO CITY – The efforts of the Ford Chip Ganassi Racing team went unrewarded at Round 5 of the FIA World Endurance Championship in Mexico City today. The #67 Ford GT of Marino Franchitti (GB), Andy Priaulx (GB) and Harry Tincknell (GB) finished in fifth place in class and the #66 car of Stefan Mücke (GER) and Olivier Pla (FRA) finished in seventh position.
Harry Tincknell started the race in the #67 Ford GT from seventh place on the grid. After a brilliant double stint, the young Briton pitted from third place to hand over to Andy Priaulx.
“The start went absolutely to plan,” said Tincknell. “I knew that if I braked late and deep on the outside I can launch past the Ferrari on the inside of the next turn. I then made a similar move at the second chicane, going to the inside and then the outside to pass the other Ferrari. We chose to double stint the tyres so I got the jump on the Porsche for third place. I struggled for a few laps later on but then the tyres came back to me and held on until just 10 laps before I pitted. Considering that this track doesn’t suit the Ford GT I’m very happy with that.”
During Priaulx’s run the rain that had been threatening all day finally arrived and all of the teams were left with a difficult decision to make.
“The conditions were changeable,” said Priaulx. “At the moment we had to make the call it was definitely ‘wets’. It was a 50/50 gamble; we wanted to be safe and for a period of half an hour or so it was the best option. I’m happy with my stint as I did three hours in the car despite suffering from a fever. A podium would have felt like a win for us and that’s where we were heading but it wasn’t to be.”
Marino Franchitti then took the #67 Ford GT to the chequered flag, finishing in fifth place. It was ultimately a disappointing result as the car had run as high as second place during the race.
Olivier Pla was behind the wheel of the #66 Ford GT for the start of the six-hour race. Starting from sixth place, the Frenchman made a good getaway but was almost immediately pushed off the track by a Ferrari, which lost him around 40 seconds. He set about regaining the time lost and turned in some impressive lap times as he passed the whole GTE Am field. A tussle with the #98 Aston Martin earned Pla a drive-through penalty, which he served just before the end of his triple stint.
“I made up two places at the start,” said Pla. “I passed the #51 Ferrari at the entrance of the Stadium then at the last corner he spun me out! I then had a job to do to catch the field again and our pace was very good at that point. I was pushing hard then I overtook the #98 Aston Martin but he stayed next to me and we collided. I got a penalty for that. It’s a really disappointing result for Stefan and me as we had podium potential today but we lost the lead in the championship.”
Once Pla’s run was complete Mücke jumped in for a triple stint but a throttle problem put paid to a good result for the #66 duo when the Ford GT had to take an extended stop for repairs.
“We made the best tyre choice we could on the #67 car,” said WEC Team Principal, George Howard-Chappell. “With the #66 car it didn’t go our way at all. We got spun around at the beginning then had a problem with the throttle so we were out of contention but at least we made it to the finish. The only saving grace for us is that the #71 Ferrari isn’t closer to the top so we’re only a few points behind in the championship going into a race that hopefully suits the car a bit better.”
The next round of the FIA World Endurance Championship will take place at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas on September 17th.