After winning its debut in 2016 and finishing second last year, the Ford GT once again climbed to a spot on the podium at the crown jewel of endurance racing, the 24 Hours of Le Mans. At this year’s race, it was the trio of Joey Hand, Sébastien Bourdais, and Dirk Müller who piloted the #68 Ford GT to a third-place finish in the GTE Pro class in France.
This is a race where you need a little bit of lady luck on your side… — Chip Ganassi, Ford Chip Ganassi Racing
“You want to win every race you compete in, but to come here, the world’s hardest sports car race, and see the effort that Ford Chip Ganassi Racing put in was great,” Mark Rushbrook, global director,Ford Performance Motorsports, said. “They fought hard all day, finished third on the podium for the third straight year and for the third straight year all our cars finished. It’s unfortunate that most of the GTE Pro field got caught out by that early safety car because it changed the dynamic of the race. But we have to be proud of what this team did.”
Ford Performance and Chip Ganassi Racing fielded four Ford GTs at this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, but it was the #68 racer — driven by Joey Hand, Sébastien Bourdais, and Dirk Müller — that placed on the podium at third and collected trophies with Ford Performance’s Mark Rushbrook (right). (Photo Credit: Ford Chip Ganassi Racing)
To finish that high in such a grueling race for three years in a row is definitely a feat worth appreciating.
“A good day at the office I would call it,” Dirk said. “Being on the podium at Le Mans is almost like winning because this race is so special and unique. P3 I know, but I am still smiling. For the 68 Ford GT, a victory in 2016 and a third place today means a lot. I look forward to coming back next year and going back up two more spots. It was great job for all the boys who did a great job, and for our WEC boys, I am glad they got good points today.”
Naturally, the team leader would have like to race away with another win, but he is well aware that it takes more than just a fast car and a skilled team to climb to the top of the podium.
Joey Hand, Sébastien Bourdais, and Dirk Müller piloted the #68 Ford GT to a third-place podium finish. Meanwhile Harry Tincknell, Andy Priaulx, and Tony Kanaan fought for a fourth-place finish in the #67 car, but were knocked back to a 12th place finish after a post-race penalty. And, unfortunately, the #66 Ford GT, raced by Stefan Mücke, Olivier Pla, and Billy Johnson qualified third, but suffered damage from an on-track incident, which cost it a lot of on-track time, while transmission troubles plagued the #69 Ford GT driven by Ryan Briscoe, Richard Westbrook, and Scott Dixon.
“We brought competitive cars here and I was happy with that aspect, but this is a race where you need a little bit of lady luck on your side, and unfortunately this time around we didn’t have that,” said Chip Ganassi, owner, Ford Chip Ganassi Racing. “We got separated from the pace car on one occasion, and then held back in a few of the slow zones, and that was costly. The leaders didn’t have to deal with that, and they benefited from the situation. I was a little disappointed with that, but that’s the way it goes here. Le Mans picks its winner. And it just didn’t pick us this year.”
The FIA Ford GTs will hope for a more favorable selection as they return to racing action at the Six Hours of Silverstone in the United Kingdom on August 19.