Ford keeps points lead despite tough Mid-Ohio ending

May 9, 2018

Ford keeps points lead despite tough Mid-Ohio ending

May 9, 2018

Ford Chip Ganassi Racing has alternated good races with tough ones in 2018’s opening quartet of IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship races.

The latest “tough one” occurred Sunday at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Despite fighting the 2.258-mile track all weekend to try to find pace, neither luck nor strategic gambles fell their way.

Ford appeared to parlay an excellent strategy to its advantage with the No. 67 Ford GT, driven by Ryan Briscoe and Richard Westbrook. The Ganassi team employs a number of key, smart personnel, and the No. 67 Ford’s race engineer Brad Goldberg had won at Mid-Ohio as an IndyCar race engineer in 2013 (pictured right; photo courtesy Ford Performance).

Ford demonstrated its renowned fuel economy from the Roush Yates-built, twin turbocharged EcoBoost V6 engine once again with Briscoe able to run the longest on the first stint, at one hour and six minutes. That moved the No. 67 car, which started seventh, into the lead.

The net time gained by running longer, leaner, allowed Westbrook to come out in third place behind the two Porsche 911 RSRs after the pit stop.

While Westbrook held third behind the No. 912 Porsche and No. 25 BMW M8 GTE, disaster struck when he was forced off line by a Prototype in Turn 1. He went into the marbles and then off course.

This opened the door for the No. 3 Corvette C7.R to move onto the podium and the second Ford to also get past, which dropped the No. 67 Ford down to fifth.

However, the No. 67 Ford still has finished in the top five of each GTLM race this season.

As the only car to do so in class, the consistency keeps Briscoe and Westbrook atop the GTLM standings heading into the Le Mans break.

“I feel like the team, with their strategy, really put me in a strong position,” Westbrook said. “The guys on the stand really deserved the podium today, but it wasn’t to be. I got pushed wide in Turn 12 coming onto the front straight and I just had so much pick-up coming off of my tires. Going into Turn 1, I had nothing.

“I threw away a podium there, really when the team put me in a strong position. I feel for them and I feel for my teammate, but we’ll come back strong. We were fighting good out there. It gives us more confidence going forward and we still got some good points.”

Joey Hand and Dirk Mueller finished fourth in the No. 66 Ford, making something out of a day where little seemed possible.

Ford will have four cars at Le Mans, with the two Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK cars joining the two Ganassi U.S.-based cars.

Ford’s FIA World Endurance Championship team had a split decision at the Spa-Francorchamps season opener this weekend.

Andy Priaulx and Harry Tincknell won the GTE-Pro class pole, but Tincknell had an accident at Eau Rouge that took that car out of the race. They were due to share it with IndyCar star Tony Kanaan. The team’s sister entry though, in the hands of Olivier Pla, Stefan Muecke and Billy Johnson, scored the class win.

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