SEBRING, Fla. - Race fans may think they’re seeing double this weekend at Sebring International Raceway as the Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GTs in the FIA World Endurance Championship and IMSA WeatherTech Championship both compete at the historic Florida race course on back-to-back days.
Qualifying for the FIA World Endurance Championship event, the “1000 Miles of Sebring” took place on Thursday night and the Ford Chip Ganassi Racing team bagged second and third place on the grid for today’s eight-hour race.
“Obviously you always want to be first and second but second and third place in qualifying is a good result,” said WEC Team Principal, George Howard-Chappell. “Our preparation has been good going into this event and we enjoyed the support of Ford who allowed us to come and test here in February, which has paid off. Let’s see how it goes for the race but we’re feeling optimistic.”
Andy Priaulx (GB) and Harry Tincknell (GB) took second place in the #67 Ford GT that they share with Jonathan Bomarito (US).
“It was a good session for us. We’ve been pretty much topping the timesheets all week so we’re actually a little disappointed not to be on pole position but to be starting an eight-hour race from second on the grid is no bad thing. We’ve got a good chance to fight for a win tomorrow. We have to be perfect in every area but we are in with a chance.”
Stefan Mücke (GER) and Olivier Pla (FRA) took third in the #66 GT that is also raced by Billy Johnson (US).
“Could have been better, could have been worse,” said Pla. “Third place is okay when you consider that we’re not really happy with the balance of the car at the moment. The team is working really hard to improve the car as it is sensitive to the temperature changes and that makes it hard to get the right set up. We have more work to do before the race as we need to find more pace so we will continue to push for that.”
In IMSA GTLM class qualifying Friday morning, Richard Westbrook (GB) took the No. 67 Ford GT to fourth on the grid in the car he will share this weekend with Ryan Briscoe (AUS) and Scott Dixon (NZ).
“I am really proud of the work our guys have done this weekend,” said Westbrook. “I had a really good car for qualifying. When I did the lap, I thought to myself that’s good enough for pole, but it looks like we’re not quite as quick as our competition right now. But we’re right there and it’s a 12-hour race. This Ford Chip Ganassi Racing team knows how to get us to the front, as we showed in Daytona. So, there’s lots to be looking forward to tomorrow.”
The No. 66 Ford GT qualified eighth with Dirk Mueller (GER) after the team had a wheel issue during the session. He will be joined by teammates Joey Hand (US) and Sebastien Bourdais (FRA) in Saturday’s endurance race.
“Well that obviously wasn’t what we planned,” said Mueller. “The car had been great up to this point all weekend. If you look at the car there is obviously something wrong with the left rear wheel or tire. We’re not sure what the issue is yet or even what caused it. We’ll go over the data and talk to everyone and see if we can get it pinpointed and fixed before final warm up tomorrow morning.”
The 1000 Miles of Sebring gets underway today (Friday, March 15) at 16:00 ET (21:00 CET). The 12 Hours of Sebring kicks off Saturday (March 16) at 10:40 ET (15:40 CET).