Le Mans GTE Preview: Ford
Le Mans GTE Preview: Ford
Above photo courtesy: Ford Performance (Nick Dungan / Drew Gibson Photography)
All 34 cars in the two GTE classes at this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans will race with Michelin. Michelin Racing USA will take a look at all six manufacturers entered and their lineups. Here is a look at Ford, which is set for its final run with its four factory cars but its first run with a customer car, fielded by Keating Motorsports.
Quick overview: Four more factory Ford GTs fly the flag in their fourth and final factory outing this Le Mans. A fifth Ford GT comes from Ben Keating’s group, which should be a contender in the GTE-Am class.
Changes from 2018: Rather than all four factory Fords running in the same red, white and blue livery, they’re now all paying tribute to Ford’s history at the race with retro liveries. The No. 66 is primarily black, the No. 67 primarily red and No. 69 primarily light blue, while the No. 68 takes on the lighter livery it used for its most recent win at Le Mans in 2016. An extra weight addition will make the cars a little heavier this year. Eleven of the 12 drivers are the same, but Jonathan Bomarito reprises his role as the No. 67 WEC-entered car’s third driver as he did at Sebring. He finished on the podium there.
Keating is the first privateer to run the Ford GT. Last year, he, Jeroen Bleekemolen and Luca Stolz scored a GTE-Am class podium in a Risi-supported Ferrari.
Test day recap: The four cars ended second, seventh, 10th and 11th and completed nearly 300 laps among them. Best news of note was Joey Hand’s return to the cockpit after being sidelined since Sebring with an illness. Neither Sebastien Bourdais nor Scott Dixon attended as they were racing IndyCar in Detroit, with Dixon managing to win Sunday’s race.
The GTE-Am class Ford from Keating Motorsports turned heads with its striking Wynn’s livery, with the drivers focusing more on comfort with the car rather than outright pace.
Quotes of note:
Mark Rushbrook, global director, Ford Performance Motorsports: “The Ford GT was created to take Ford back to the world of GT endurance racing. This factory Ford GT program has been a great success for our brand and we have enjoyed the many challenges that have come our way during this four-year program.”
Joey Hand: “I’m about as excited to get back to Le Mans as I have ever been,” Hand said. “Missing the last two races because of illness has been hard, but getting ready for Le Mans has driven my recovery. I had a great two-day test on the Ford simulator and I’ve been working out hard to be physically ready for this tough race.”
66 Stefan Mucke/Olivier Pla/Billy Johnson, Ford Chip Ganassi Racing
67 Harry Tincknell/Andy Priaulx/Jonathan Bomarito, Ford Chip Ganassi Racing
68 Joey Hand/Dirk Mueller/Sebastien Bourdais, Ford Chip Ganassi Racing
69 Ryan Briscoe/Richard Westbrook/Scott Dixon, Ford Chip Ganassi Racing
85 Ben Keating/Jeroen Bleekemolen/Felipe Fraga, Keating Motorsports (GTE-Am)
2018 GTE-PRO RESULTS
66 Stefan Mucke/Olivier Pla/Billy Johnson, 6th GTE Pro
67 Harry Tincknell/Andy Priaulx/Tony Kanaan, 12th GTE Pro
68 Joey Hand/Dirk Mueller/Sebastien Bourdais, 3rd GTE Pro
69 Ryan Briscoe/Richard Westbrook/Scott Dixon, 14th GTE Pro