Despite winning last year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, Dave Pericak, Ford Performance’s global director says he is targeting championships with the Ford GT in its sophomore season.
This weekend’s 55th Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona will see four of the Chip Ganassi Racing-run Ford GTs in action, as the team boosts its IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship entries with its FIA World Endurance Championship cars.
Between them, the IMSA and WEC Ford squads scored six victories in 2016, adding Laguna Seca, Watkins Glen, Mosport, Fuji and Shanghai to its famous Le Mans 24hr triumph.
Said Pericak: “We’re ready to get this second season started with Ford GT. We walked away from last year happy with what we were able to accomplish, but that doesn’t mean the job’s done.
“The team did a great job preparing in the very short off-season and we believe we’re prepared to compete for championships in 2017.”
Ganassi, who is the only team owner in history to win the Le Mans 24 Hours, Indianapolis 500, Daytona 500, Brickyard 400, Rolex 24 at Daytona and 12 Hours of Sebring, added: “Overall, when you look back at 2016, I would say ‘mission accomplished’ when it came to debuting this program with Ford. We won races, competed for the championship in both IMSA and WEC and of course won in Le Mans.
“Like any new program, you’re going to have some growing pains as we did here in Daytona but we have worked through all of those and finished 2016 strong.
“This year is a totally different scenario. Not only do we have four cars instead of two, we also have a 24-hour win under our belts and a season’s worth of experiences with this car. I can’t wait to see what this year’s race brings.”
Rolex 24 rookie Tincknell encouraged by Ford pace
One of the more intriguing lineups is that of three-time World Touring Car champion Andy Priaulx, Tony Kanaan and Harry Tincknell. While 2004 IndyCar champion and 2013 Indy 500 winner Kanaan won the Rolex 24 Hours overall in 2015, that was in Ganassi’s Ford Prototype, and the Brazilian has no race experience of the GT. Meanwhile Tincknell does have a season of Ford GT under his belt, but this will be his first attempt at the Rolex 24 Hours.
He commented: “I won class honors at Le Mans in 2014 and the 2016 European Le Mans Series title but I’m hungry to add a Daytona victory to my CV.
“Testing there earlier this month with the Ford team went well. We worked through our program while I got up to speed with the track. The Ford GTs were always at the sharp end of the timesheets so that bodes well for this weekend.
“I went to Daytona for the first time last year as a spectator and drove on the famous ‘banked’ track for the first time a couple of weeks ago. It’s the race I've most wanted to do for the last two years. Going there with Ford makes it extra special.
“I’ll be racing for Ford Chip Ganassi Racing again in the FIA World Endurance Championship which gets underway at Silverstone in April so the Daytona event will get the whole team in the groove. Another 24 hour race will help us develop the car for Le Mans and it gets the new guys in the team up to speed with pit stops before our main season starts.”