LE MANS – After a successful test on the Circuit de la Sarthe just over a week ago, the Ford GTs of Ford Chip Ganassi Racing took to the legendary Le Mans track for real today, putting four cars through a four-hour Free Practice Session and then a late-night, two-hour provisional qualifying session.
Although they did not match the times of the pace-setting Porsche GT Team today, the GTs qualified 3rd, 4th, 8th and 10th in the very strong 17-car GTE Pro Class. Leading the team this evening was the No. 66 Ford GT of Billy Johnson, Stefan Mücke and Olivier Pla, who managed a 3:49.191 lap during the cool evening. The trio won the season-opening FIA WEC race at Spa in May.
The No. 68 of Joey Hand, Sébastien Bourdais and Dirk Müller was just a tick behind their teammates at 3:49.582 as the team looks to repeat its 2016 class victory here. Bourdais, a native of Le Mans, returns after a one-year absence due to injuries in practice for the 2017 Indianapolis 500.
This evening’s qualifying followed today’s afternoon practice session that saw the cars go 4th (No. 66), 8th (No. 68), 9th (No. 69) and 10th (No. 67). Quickest time for the Ford GT during practice was 3:51.498.
The No. 67 team is made up of Indycar star Tony Kanaan, Andy Priaulx and Harry Tincknell. The No. 69 team includes 2018 Rolex 24 at Daytona GTLM champions Ryan Briscoe, Richard Westbrook and Scott Dixon.
The teams return to the track tomorrow evening for two more, two-hour qualifying sessions at 19:00 hours and 22:00 hours.