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 IMSA Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge GS class for Multimatic Motorsports in the #15 Ford Performance Shelby GT350R-C with co-driver Scott Maxwell.
With 18 wins to his name, Billy is one of the most successful drivers in the CTSCC history. In addition, Billy has multiple GT class podium finishes for Turner Motorsports, driving the BMW M3 in the IMSA GTD Class as well as driving the #007 Aston Martin Vantage in the 12 Hours of Sebring for Aston Martin Racing in the GTE class with Pedro Lamy and Paul Dalla Lana in 2013.
Johnson is a test driver for Multimatic and Ford Performance and helped develop the GTE/GTLM classed Ford GT racecar, Shelby GT350R-C racecar, GT350 & GT350R street cars, and Ford GT street cars.
He has been called to drive in numerous endurance races including the 24 Hours of Daytona in the #77 Doran Racing Ford Daytona Prototype 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.
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