Ford leads but strikes trouble at Daytona

January 30, 2016

Ford leads but strikes trouble at Daytona

January 30, 2016


It has been a bittersweet day for the new Ford Performance GT in its race debut here at Daytona. Joey Hand became the first Ford driver to lead a lap in the car but both the No.66 and No.67 machines have struck trouble early.

ford_pic_2The No.67 car was the first to head to the garage after a gearbox issue with Ryan Briscoe at the wheel. Hand also was delayed on his first stop after a brake-line problem and later stopped on course with electrical issues.

Gearbox issues also struck the No.66 car – putting it 37 laps down nearing the five hour mark. The No.67 machine was 20 laps adrift of the leader.

“The first thing is, it was pretty awesome to take the first green flag in this new Ford GT,” Hand said.

“I was pretty proud of that. Ryan and I were the designated guys to roll these things across the line. The fact we were side-by-side, I thought that was pretty cool. We had to feel these cars out. We haven’t done a race lap in these cars. We haven’t run with other cars. We were in the draft, cold tires, we didn’t know what to expect.

“I just took it really easy and tried to work my way through and capitalize on some guys making mistakes. I was actually able to get through some guys pretty quickly while they were trying to work their stuff out. I felt really good with the car. The balance on the car was good. It’s similar to what we’ve had with this car for a while, in testing.

hand_session_2“No real issues in the balance department. Our whole thing coming here was just to try to run as many laps as we could. I was also pretty excited to be the first one to lead a lap in this car. I hustled it after that last restart to try to get ahead of that Porsche to try to lead a lap, NASCAR-style.

“We’re sitting in the garage right now. We have a car stuck in first gear. They’re working on it, trying to get it back to the track. Before that, we had a stray wheel run into the brake line on a pit stop. After I went out onto the track, I just lost power.”

The remainder of the race for Ford will now become an important development session as the team prepares for the Twelve Hours of Sebring and its FIA World Endurance Championship program.

“Chip (Ganassi) has a lot of experience, and I know he’d always said he was afraid we hadn’t had too many issues in testing,” Briscoe said.

“I guess he was right. The car has been running so well in testing. We’ve been logging a lot of miles. It’s been awesome. My main fear was getting things started for the green flag. We’ve had a few issues getting the thing done in time. We started the race and everything was great and I was like ‘man, this is awesome. Let’s go and just look after it.’ We’ve been catching a few surprises and we’ll learn from them and move on.”

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