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MAR 19, 2016 | From Ford Performance Staff

Ford GT Cars 5th, 8th in Class at 12 Hours of Sebring

No67_FordGT_rain_800

The road to Le Mans continued Saturday at Sebring International Raceway, and although the Ford Chip Ganassi Racing team came up just short in a quest for a podium spot at the 12 Hours of Sebring, there were still plenty of bright spots to point to when the checkered flag fell.

Once again, both the No. 66 and No. 67 finished the race on track.  But this time the No. 67 Ford GT (Richard Westbrook/Ryan Briscoe/Scott Dixon) battled all day on the lead lap, led a portion of the race, and was in contention for a podium finish in the final 10 minutes of the race before getting knocked off track. The car finished fifth in GTLM.

The No. 66 Ford GT (Joey Hand/Dirk Müller/Sébastien Bourdais) ran strong early, but hydroplaned off the track during a massive rainstorm, causing major front-end damage that needed to be repaired in the paddock.  A heroic effort by Ford Chip Ganassi Racing got the car repaired in just over 15 minutes and it returned just six laps down.  It finished eighth in class.

“It’s night and day, compared to Daytona,” said Westbrook, who was in the battle for the podium at the end in the No. 67. “It’s really good for all the guys on the team to have a good, cleanish race. I had no car issues. We’ve learned a hell of a lot. I think we have a long list of stuff we can improve on. In Daytona, we weren’t really racing people. We were too many laps down. Now we’re on the lead lap and we’re racing people. We know where we’ve got to improve now. Time’s not on our side, but the will is definitely there and I’m with the best team out there, so we’ll get it.”

“It was tough luck. It was a bummer,” Hand said. “From (Dirk’s accident), we just did what this team does and adapted. When we get into a situation, these guys just know how to make it happen. Luckily we got a red flag after Dirk’s incident, and even though the guys couldn’t work on it (under a red flag), they got a look at it and were able to prepare everything we needed. They got the car back together in 15 minutes, 32 seconds, from start to rolling out of the tent. I think it’s just a testament to this program, these guys know it. Maybe everybody else doesn’t know how good these guys are, but I know how good they are. That’s why I’m so proud to be part of this Ford Chip Ganassi Racing team. After that, we went racing today…and after we came back, we ran flawlessly. I think all in all, it was a pretty good day for us with what we’re looking forward to, which is Le Mans.”

“The cars ran clean, mechanically, so we’re really pleased about that,” said Raj Nair, Ford executive vice president, Global Product Development and Chief Technical Officer. “We didn’t have any repeat issues from (The Rolex 24 At) Daytona. We’ve got some more things to work on, but the cars ran reliably which at a track like Sebring is quite an accomplishment. On the speed front, both cars had good pace and the No. 67 car led quite a few laps, finished on the lead lap and had a real shot at the podium, so we are also happy that the car has the speed to be competitive. There are a few things we know we want to work on to keep improving our performance and achieve better and better results but overall, it was a good outcome.”

“We came here today to prove we had a durable car, and we did that,” said Dave Pericak, global director, Ford Performance. “We fixed the issues from Daytona, so that’s encouraging. Nobody expects some of the crashes we saw and some of the hard rain we experienced today, but none of those are excuses. Those are all building blocks for Le Mans. All in all, it was a good day. Everybody wants to see us finish a little further up front, but we ran a very solid race today.”

The Ford GTs will be back in action in Round 3 of the IMSA WeatherTech Championship on April 16, on the streets on Long Beach, California

* * * * *

FORD GT FINAL RACE RESULTS

Overall/Class                                                                             

15/5       67           Ford GT (*Richard Westbrook/Ryan Briscoe/Scott Dixon)
26/8       66           Ford GT (Dirk Müller/*Joey Hand/Sébastien Bourdais)

* -- Last driver in car.

FORD GT STARTING POSITIONS

P4           67           Ford GT (*Richard Westbrook/Ryan Briscoe/Scott Dixon)
P9           66           Ford GT (*Dirk Müller/Joey Hand/Sébastien Bourdais)  

* -- Driver qualified

NOTE: The No. 67 Ford GT led laps for the first time with Scott Dixon behind the wheel.

No. 67 Ford GT (Richard Westbrook/Ryan Briscoe/Scott Dixon)

RICHARD WESTBROOK: “It’s night and day, compared to Daytona. It’s really good for all the guys on the team to have a good, cleanish race. I had no car issues. We’ve learned a hell of a lot. I think we have a long list of stuff we can improve on. In Daytona, we weren’t really racing people. We were too many laps down. Now we’re on the lead lap and we’re racing people. We know where we’ve got to improve now. Time’s not on our side, but the will is definitely there and I’m with the best team out there, so we’ll get it.”

SCOTT DIXON: “Conditions were very mixed. We had lots of rain, and obviously a red flag, too. I think the car performed well. We got to the end, which was the main objective. I think the car had signs of good speed, strategy I think we missed a little bit, but obviously good progress since Daytona. Everything’s moving the right direction.”

RYAN BRISCOE: “We fought all day long. We finished on the lead lap. We were fighting. We still have a pretty good list of things to go through to make better, but it was a really good day for us. It was exactly what we wanted to accomplish. Obviously, we wanted to go for the win, but big steps from Daytona and exactly what we needed on a demanding track in demanding conditions today. Everyone did a great job. Really, really positive day for our second race with the car.”

No. 66 Ford GT (Joey Hand/Dirk Müller/Sébastien Bourdais)

SÉBASTIEN BOURDAIS: “It could have been a really good day. The car was pretty fast and consistent…It was a good experiment race for us, got more miles on the car and getting ready for the big one (Le Mans).”

DIRK MÜLLER: “After the 24-hour race (Rolex 24 At Daytona), we went straight into a 12-hour race. We had a pretty good race going on. We were really conservative in the beginning and just stayed out of trouble. Everything was really running smooth. I was really strong in the rain. I was really impressed with the car. We got a little unfortunate break. It just went too long (under a green flag) when it was not drivable anymore (due to the volume of rain falling and puddling on the race track surface). Finally, I just hydroplaned off of Turn 1. I had no chance to do anything there. You could see how good the car was. We only lost a couple of laps. We got unlucky because just after (my accident), we got a red flag. It was just a few seconds too late. After that, everything was fine. Everybody did a good job. The whole team did a good job. We’re learning, step-by-step, and we’re coming back even stronger.”

JOEY HAND: “It was tough luck. It was a bummer. From (Dirk’s accident), we just did what this team does and adapted. When we get into a situation, these guys just know how to make it happen. Luckily we got a red flag after Dirk’s incident, and even though the guys couldn’t work on it (under a red flag), they got a look at it and were able to prepare everything we needed. They got the car back together in 15 minutes, 32 seconds, from start to rolling out of the tent. I think it’s just a testament to this program, these guys know it. Maybe everybody else doesn’t know how good these guys are, but I know how good they are. That’s why I’m so proud to be part of this Ford Chip Ganassi Racing team. After that, we went racing today…and after we came back, we ran flawlessly. I think all in all, it was a pretty good day for us with what we’re looking forward to, which is Le Mans.”

* * * * *

RAJ NAIR, Ford executive vice president, Global Product Development, and Chief Technical Officer: “The cars ran clean, mechanically, so we’re really pleased about that. We didn’t have any repeat issues from (The Rolex 24 At) Daytona. We’ve got some more things to work on, but the cars ran reliably which at a track like Sebring is quite an accomplishment. On the speed front, both cars had good pace and the No. 67 Ford GT led quite a few laps, finished on the lead lap and had a real shot at the podium, so we are also happy that the car has the speed to be competitive. There are a few things we know we want to work on to keep improving our performance and achieve better and better results, but overall, it was a good outcome.”

DAVE PERICAK, director, Ford Performance: “We came here today to prove we had a durable car, and we did that. We fixed the issues from Daytona, so that’s encouraging. Nobody expects some of the crashes we saw and some of the hard rain we experienced today, but none of those are excuses. Those are all building blocks for Le Mans. All in all, it was a good day. Everybody wants to see us finish a little further up front, but we ran a very solid race today.”