Johnson teams up with Pla & Mucke in the #68 Ford GT for the Rolex 24
Johnson rejoins his 24 Hours of LeMans teammates Frenchman Olivier Pla and German Stefan Mucke to compete in the 2017 Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona in Ford's four car effort driving the No. 68 Ford GT.
Billy Johnson to Drive in Ford Chip Ganassi Racing's Four-Car Effort in the 2017 Rolex 24 At Daytona
DEARBORN, Mich. -- Not since last summer’s Le Mans 24 Hours have all four Ford GTs in the Ford Chip Ganassi Racing stable competed for the same prize. That will change at the 2017 Rolex 24 At Daytona in January, where the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and FIA World Endurance Championship teams will unite for one goal -- winning the coveted top step of the podium of a 24-hour race on American soil.A full four-car effort in the Rolex 24 is a continuation of the historical trail the current Ford GT team has been following, one that was blazed by the original GT40s of the 1960s. Those earlier cars won the most important endurance racing titles around the world, including the Rolex 24, the 12 Hours of Sebring, and the Le Mans 24 Hours.
Ford Chip Ganassi Racing may have ticked off one box in that legendary list in the debut year, but there is still work to do.
“It would be easy to just talk about what we’ve already done with this Ford GT but really we’re focused on the future,” said Dave Pericak, global director, Ford Performance. “We didn’t have the strongest race at the Rolex 24 last year but we have a season of learning experiences behind us with this program now and we’re proud that when we come back to Daytona in 2017, we’ll come with all four Ford GTs.”
The Ford GT program won six races and started from the front of the grid eight times in 2016, with victories coming at Laguna Seca, Watkins Glen, Mosport, Le Mans, Fuji and Shanghai.
“Even with the success we had last season winning six races, I think we have some unfinished business in Daytona,” said Chip Ganassi, owner, Ford Chip Ganassi Racing, who with the 2016 Le Mans win became the only team owner in history to win the Indianapolis 500, Daytona 500, Brickyard 400, Rolex 24 At Daytona, 12 Hours of Sebring and the Le Mans 24 Hours. “The Rolex 24 last year was our first big test to see where we were with the program, and although we didn’t win, I can tell you that we learned a lot. We also learned a lot in Le Mans working with all four cars through the 24 hours. I’m excited we have another opportunity to assemble the full lineup for Daytona. The opportunity to compete with all four cars at the same time, in a race as prestigious as Daytona, is very special.”
Ford Chip Ganassi Racing will again campaign four Ford GTs full time for its second year of competition -- two in the North American IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, and two in the global FIA World Endurance Championship.
Johnson Becomes the Winningest Driver in IMSA's CTSCC History
The victory at the Road Atlanta season finale not only clinched the Manufacturer, Team, and Driver Championships for the No. 15 Ford-Multimatic Shelby GT350R-C and drivers Billy Johnson and Scott Maxwell, but it marked Johnson's 23rd career CTSCC win, breaking the tie to become the Winningest driver in series history.
"I've been in the series for 10 years now and had the privilege to drive for some great teams, and with great co-drivers and won a lot of races." Johnson reflected. "It's been a long road working my way from ST [the Street Tuner class] to GS, from part-time rides to full seasons, to finally be in the position to go after championships, and then to finally win a championship. It's nice to come full circle in that".
Multimatic Motorsports, based in Markham, Ontario, Canada, with Billy Johnson and Toronto’s Scott Maxwell sharing the duties behind the wheel found success throughout the year but truly stood out as a premier team in the second half of the 2016 season.
While Maxwell has been with Multimatic since its founding in 1992, Johnson joined the team only recently. “It’s been an honor to drive for Multimatic since I moved over there in 2014,” Johnson said. "In terms of how well [Scott and I] work together, we don't have to fight different things in the car. We always say the same thing in terms of how the car's handling and what we want out of the car. I think we're really efficient at developing and improving the balance of the cars better than anyone else, so that's been a huge advantage."
After finishing eighth in the point standings last year, after starting the season in the Ford BOSS 302R and debuting the brand new Shelby GT350R-C mid-season, Maxwell and Johnson positioned themselves well after the first two races in 2016 with a win at Daytona and a second-place finish at Sebring. A pair of fourth place finishes followed for the team at Laguna Seca and Watkins Glen.
In the meantime, the new-for-2016 Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport had been performing well, particularly in the hands of co-drivers Cameron Cassels and Trent Hindman, who scored three consecutive wins between Sebring and The Glen in the No. 12 Bodymotion Racing Cayman. The No. 33 CJ Wilson Racing Porsche of Danny Burkett and Marc Miller also began to pick up steam.
However, the Mobil 1 SportsCar Grand Prix at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, the fifth race of 10 for the Continental Tire Challenge, proved to be crucial for the No. 15 Ford as the team captured a commanding win at its home track on July 9. Maxwell scored his 13th career pole the previous day, a series record, while the win was number 19 for Johnson.
The hometown victory at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park sparked an incredible run for Multimatic. Clever pit strategy led to wins in the next two races at Lime Rock and then Road America, where Johnson earned a last-lap win after the leading car ran out of fuel. After three consecutive victories, Maxwell and Johnson found themselves leading the standings by 23 points.
A second-place finish at Virginia International Raceway would be the last time in 2016 in which another GS competitor bested Maxwell and Johnson. Maxwell secured both poles at Circuit of The Americas and the season-ending Road Atlanta race, bringing his career and series record total to 16. Johnson then closed out wins at both tracks to become the winningest Continental Tire Challenge driver with 23 career victories.
Johnson & Maxwell WIN the 2016 IMSA CTSCC Championship!
BRASELTON, Georgia (September 30, 2016)
The Ford Shelby GT350R-C earned its first championship title in its first full year of competition, thanks to a dominant season from Multimatic Motorsports in the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge this year.
Drivers Billy Johnson and Scott Maxwell ran the table at the final race weekend, the Road Atlanta 150, earning their sixth win of the year driving in the No. 15 Ford Shelby GT350R-C after starting on pole for the sixth time. With that win, the duo clinched the Manufacturers’, Team, and Driver's championship for Ford and Multimatic among a field deeply filled with Porsches.
The Ford Shelby GT350R-C was an immediate success when it debuted on pole at its first race in 2015, then went on to win two races in its first partial season. The domination continued this year.
"We're very pleased with how the Shelby GT350R-C has performed on the track since its debut," said Dave Pericak, global director, Ford Performance. “It’s just another proof point where we have used the race track as a laboratory to help develop an outstanding performance car for the street. Congratulations to Scott, Billy, Multimatic and the whole Ford Performance team on their efforts this year.”
Maxwell put the No. 15 on pole on Thursday in competition that was separated by only tenths of a second. It’s their first championship title together for the Toronto-based team, and Johnson’s first ever in Continental Tire competition.
"It was the longest 45 minutes of my life," said Maxwell, who had to complete a minimum drive time of 45 minutes to earn his half of the drivers’ championship. "The car was fine, I was just trying to go around an not get involved in any trouble."
"With Scott Maxwell and Billy Johnson in a Ford Shelby GT350R-C, my sheepdog could've run that race an won it," said Multimatic’s Larry Holt with a laugh. "That's not to say anything about the competition. The competition in the series is fantastic, and we had to fight for every win this year. It's just Scott and Billy are so good and that car is so good. It was an unbelievable year. Every single piece of the team is good, from the car to the partnership with Ford and we're excited to see what next year brings."
COTA marks 5th win of the season
AUSTIN, Texas (September 16, 2016) – Courtesy of Ford Performance – A nearly flawless drive by co-drivers Scott Maxwell and Billy Johnson Jr. in their Multimatic Motorsports Ford Shelby GT350R-C led them to a very important IMSA Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge victory today at the Circuit of the Americas.
It was the fifth victory of the season for the GT350R-C duo and put them on the cusp of winning the series title. They are 31 points ahead of the second place CJ Wilson Racing Porsche effort, with a maximum 35 points available at any race. There is one race to go in the series, in two weeks at Road Atlanta. Maxwell put the Shelby GT350R-C on the pole Thursday, and took the lead off the start, setting a strong pace early before turning it over to Johnson. The team only lost the lead during pit stops, but with 39 minutes left they were in a strong battle with the CJ Wilson Racing car. However, with 19 minutes left, the Porsche suffered a suspension issue, leaving Johnson with a more than 40-second lead, and he cruised to the win.
The second GT350R-C from the C360R team finished a strong third, after running in the top four all day.
Maxwell/Johnson scored their fifth victory of the season in a race they started from the pole position, only losing the lead during pit stops. The victory gives them a 31-point lead in the championship with one race to go at Road Atlanta in two weeks.
SCOTT MAXWELL: “It’s was pretty uneventful. The first hour is really just for setting up for the last hour and trying to relay as much information as I could to Billy and the team. Things like what the car was doing and how it was changing and any concerns. I was able to lead the entire stint but it did take a lot of restraint trying to keep the brakes and the rear tires under me. It’s so slippery for everybody out there so it’s just trying to minimize mistakes which is so easy to do and was fairly successful in doing that. Billy got in a car that was in pretty good shape, other than we had a minor gear box issue that we overcame pretty quickly.”
BILLY JOHNSON: “All I have to say is Scott is not taking enough credit for his performance, he checked out during his stint and put some time between him and the 33 car. Every little bit counts to run these races. We haven’t had the outright pace and the speed pretty much all season. It’s drives like Scott’s in the first stint, it’s our awesome pit stops and pit strategies that bump us ahead. It’s a team effort and every person who has been a part of this program, whether they’re over the wall, or on the box, or back in the shop help make sure our car is reliable. It takes every single little bit of all that effort to put ourselves in a position to have wins like that. Scott and I do what we do and manage traffic pretty well, but I want to thank everyone who is a part of this program for all that they do because they’re the heroes behind this success.
SM: (ON LEADING THE CHAMPIONSHIP BY 31 POINTS WITH ONE RACE TO GO) “We will just keep our mindset the same as the previous nine races, we go to win. We’re not going to take any unnecessary chances, and I’m sure we’ll figure out how far into the race we have got to get before we know if it’s clinched or not clinched, so we will be careful until that point. If we’re fortunate enough to do it during the race, we will just go for it as usual. There’s no sense in changing things up now for the championship. We want to be aggressive but smart and today was a perfect example of that.”
GT350R-C Wins Thriller at Road America for 3rd win in a row
ELKHART LAKE, Wisconsin (August 6, 2016) – Courtesy of Ford Performance – Multimatic Motorsports’ Billy Johnson and Scott Maxwell stood on the top step of the winners’ podium for the fourth time this season and the third time in a row after winning the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge race at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park, Lime Rock, and now Road America.
In the closing laps of the race, just when it looked like the Multimatic team would have to settle for p2, the leader ran out of fuel on the final lap and Johnson, who closed out the race after Maxwell started on the pole, was there to pounce. It was Johnson’s first career win at Road America.
"I left the decision whether to push or conserve and when, to the team" Johnson said. “I was just doing as I was told, and that was to go as fast as I can. Then I was getting a little nervous when I saw cars running out of fuel, pitting and pitting earlier than us, but the Multimatic Ford team had the strategy down and had everything figured out. Kudos to the team for having a great strategy and making us do what we needed to do to be in position to win.”
This is the seventh podium of the year for the Ford Shelby GT350R-C, between Multimatic and the No. 76 AERO Advanced Paint Technology/Children’s Tumor Foundation Ford Shelby GT350R-C fielded by C360 Racing and drivers Paul Holton and Pierre Kleinubing. Holton and Kleinubing’s day ended early after heavy contact left the No. 76 on its side in Turn 12 soon after the green flag. Holton was uninjured.
“The Ford Shelby GT350R-C is just a fantastic car," Johnson said. "I love driving it. Both Scott and I worked on the development of both the street and race car, and are privileged to be racing the GT350R-C. It's a hell of a race car and it's pretty good at drifting too." On Friday, Maxwell earned his 14th career pole, a record in the series. Johnson and Maxwell leave Road America having extended their points lead 228 to 205 in the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge points.
" Every win is important, but now that we're into the second half of the year and the championship is narrowed down to two or three cars, this is a really big win," Maxwell said. "Our objective, really, today, was just to be ahead of the No. 33 Porsche (second in points). Even towards the end, when we were running second with Billy and Mark (Miller) in third, I thought it was a pretty good day, but at the end it all switched around when the leader ran out of fuel."
"It's a fantastic points day for us, and to win here makes it all the better. Road America is one of my favorite tracks, and I haven't won here in about 15 years, so it's a great feeling."
4th Place Finish in LeMans Debut
Making his LeMans Debut, Billy Johnson finishes fourth in the No. 66 Ford GT with co-drivers Olivier Pla and Stefan Mucke after a dramatic and controversial race.
The Trio's No. 66 lost two laps after being black-flagged and required to fix a number board backlighting, meanwhile the No. 82 Rizi Ferrari did not pit to fix a similar lighting problem or to serve a penalty given for not complying to their own black-flag, which would have likely seen a podium result for the No. 66 Ford GT.
Johnson was chosen as one of two American racing drivers to pilot one of the four factory Ford GTs racing in the hotly contested GTE-Pro category. Johnson stepped up to the challenge and the No. 66 Ford GT was one of the fastest GTE-Pro cars all race long. Johnson also set a new track record during his stint which stood for hours until Indy 500 winner and 4-time series Champion Scott Dixon bested Johnson's time by 0.068 seconds, setting a new track record with a time of 3:51.582
"I'm honored to have been chosen as one of two American to drive for such an important American brand in such a historic setting as the 50th anniversary of Ford's iconic 1-2-3 finish with the Ford GT and to be apart of the car's development and join in Ford's return to LeMans and win it." Johnson said "Word's cannot describe what this opportunity has meant to me and how great it is to have overcome all odds in creating a brand new car from nothing in such a short period of time and to win the most prestigious race in the world really speaks to the hard work and dedication to everyone involved.
"It was awesome to set the GTE-Pro track record and hold it for a while. Unfortunately Scott [Dixon] beat my time in the last hour or two of the race, but I can't think of a more accomplished and nicer guy to have done it."
No. 66 Ford GT drivers Olivier Pla, Billy Johnson, and Stefan Mucke at the LeMans Driver's Parade.
SPA PROVIDES EXTREME TEST OF ENDURANCE FOR FORD GT CARS
MAY 7, 2016 | By Ford Performance Staff
The Ford Chip Ganassi Racing team had its biggest test of endurance yet at the WEC 6 Hours of Spa on Saturday. The #67 Ford GT fought hard throughout the race and took a triumphant second place at the checkered flag. The best result yet for the WEC Ford GTs was tempered by the fact that with just over one hour of the six-hour race remaining, the #66 Ford GT crashed heavily exiting Eau Rouge. German driver Stefan Mücke was behind the wheel and it was an anxious moment for the team before his voice came over the radio.
“Everything is okay,” said Mücke after having precautionary tests at a local hospital. “I feel okay and it is good to know we have a strong car. Thank you to the team for building me a safe car.”
The team will now take the car back to the UK for a full investigation whilst also continuing its preparations for Le Mans.
The sister No. 67 Ford GT had a very different race, finishing in second place and taking the best result yet for the Ford Chip Ganassi Racing WEC team.
“The most important thing is that Stefan is okay,” said WEC Team Principal George Howard-Chapell. “Typically, he is more concerned with the car than himself. We need to look at the data to find out what happened but at the moment we suspect it was a puncture. On the flip side it is fabulous to get second place, which was a fairly unexpected result. It’s good that it has followed on from the victory for the U.S. team last week and a great result for the lead into the Le Mans 24 Hours.”
The race started well for the No. 66 Ford GT as Frenchman Olivier Pla had a strong opening stint, fighting his way through to third place by passing two Aston Martins. Billy Johnson was up next and he continued the good work before handing the car to Mücke.
The No. 67 Ford GT also had a strong start in the hands of Marino Franchitti but 40 minutes into the opening stint the Scotsman received a tap from behind that sent him into a spin and to the back of the GTE Pro field. He quickly recovered and completed his stint before Andy Priaulx jumped in for his run, which saw the #67 steadily rise up the order, taking fourth before Harry Tincknell took over. The young Briton had a great on track battle with Mücke before the accident happened and handed the car over to Franchitti in third place for the run to the flag.
Despite mounting pressure from a charging Aston Martin, Franchitti held on to third and then took second place when the #51 Ferrari ran in trouble.
“We had some great strategy calls from the pits today,” said Franchitti. “We said we would be pleased to get a podium finish here so to take second place is great. That result was for the team who have worked so hard for these past few months.”
The next race for all four Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GTs is the Le Mans 24 Hours, which takes place on 18-19 June.
- See more at: http://performance.ford.com/series/road-racing/news/articles/2016/05/spa-provides-extreme-test-of-endurance-for-ford-gt-cars.html#sthash.JUfVa92A.dpuf
Positive Start to the WEC Season for Ford GT Cars - Silverstone
“Considering it was the first race with a new car and a new team we had a clean run,” said Raj Nair, executive vice president and chief technical officer, Global Ford Product Development. “We’re very happy that the car ran well mechanically. We had a couple of issues; we were caught out on safety car timing and we lost radio with Olivier (Pla) towards the end of the race, which had an impact on strategy. This is a great start though and a good stepping stone to the Le Mans 24 Hours.”
Both Ford GTs got away well at the start of the six-hour race with Stefan Mücke holding onto third position in the #66 car with Andy Priaulx close behind in #67.
“I really enjoyed the start,” said Mücke. “It’s always exciting to start the first race of a new season and to take the start in the Ford GT was a special moment. We have found a good balance and as the Ford is easy on its tyres we were able to double stint and this really helps with our strategy.”
Priaulx got a tap from behind halfway around the opening lap but kept his focus and quickly settled into his race rhythm.
“The car ran faultlessly and I was able to get into a good rhythm straight away,” said Priaulx. “Our first pit stop, which was the first racing stop for the team, was spot on. I know we are a new team but it feels like we have been doing this for a while. We can drive the Ford GT with confidence and combined with our strategy this makes us strong.”
Billy Johnson and Marino Franchitti took over the #66 and #67 Ford GTs respectively for the middle section of the race. Franchitti had a ‘moment’ when he was hit by an LMP1 car but he quickly recovered.
For the final two hours, the Ford GTs were handed over to Harry Tincknell and Olivier Pla who both delivered their usual rapid run.
“That’s the most laps I have driven in the Ford GT!” said Tincknell. “I really enjoyed it and I’m happy with fourth, although a podium would have been nice. I didn’t really focus on position though, I just drove as fast as I could and made sure I looked after my tyres. This was also my first ever world-class GT race so I had to quickly learn how to deal with the prototypes flying past me. We learned a lot this weekend and that is what we came here to do so thanks to the team who all worked incredibly hard.”
The next race for the WEC Ford GTs is the 6 Hours of Spa, which takes place on May 7.
- See more at: http://performance.ford.com/series/road-racing/news/articles/2016/04/positive-start-to-the-wec-season-for-ford-gt-cars.html#sthash.EhhYJIpU.dpuf
Billy Johnson to drive the
Billy Johnson is an American professional race car driver competing in the WEC for Ford Chip Ganassi Racing in the #66 Ford GT and the 2016 IMSA Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge GS champion for Ford/Multimatic Motorsports in the #15 Ford Performance Shelby GT350R-C with co-driver Scott Maxwell.
With 23 wins to his name, Billy is the winningest driver in CTSCC history. In addition, Billy has multiple GT class podium finishes for Turner Motorsports, driving the BMW M3 in the IMSA GTD Class.
Johnson is a test driver for Multimatic and Ford Performance and helped develop the LeMans winning Ford GT racecar, Championship winning Shelby GT350R-C, Mustang GT4, FP350S racecars, as well as street cars including the GT350, GT350R, and Ford GT.
He has been called to drive in numerous endurance races including the 24 Hours of LeMans in the #66 Ford GT, 24 Hours of Daytona in the #77 Doran Racing Ford Daytona Prototype, the 12 Hours of Sebring in the #007 Aston Martin Vantage to the #64 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 458 to the #97 Turner Motorsport Z4 GT3.
Johnson is also a road-course specialist in the NASCAR Xfinity series and is hired by Ford to teaching advanced techniques to Ford's Sprint Cup and XFinity drivers on road course racing.
Driving for Roush Fenway Racing with a career-best 8th place finish in the #60 at Montreal in 2012, Johnson made his oval racing debut at Loudon in 2013 in a Nationwide car finishing an impressive 15th position on the lead lap. He also led laps in the #16 at Road America.
Billy is an 8-time track record holder in Time Attack events driving an assortment of cars but most notable for piloting the FXMD Turbo NSX, the fastest Time Attack car in the country.
Billy currently resides in Lake Worth, FL.
IMSA Live Streaming:
CLICK HERE When races are in progress