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Ford GT Victorious at Rolex 24 at Daytona
The Chip Ganassi Ford GTs win again to start 2017 off on the right foot
The latest Ford GT has proven to be quite the world-beater, both on the street and on the track. As we’ve profiled here before, the Ford GT performed really well in 2016. For 2017, the Ford GTs of Chip Ganassi Racing hoped to build on last year’s momentum when the team racked up 8 pole positions and 6 victories, including the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans. The Chip Ganassi Ford GTs came out of the gate at the Rolex 24 at Daytona over the weekend, and roared to a victory in the GTLM class.
The same team of Sebastian Bourdais, Joey Hand, and Dirk Muller who won at Le Mans in car No. 66 started on the pole, and led many of the early laps. Since it is a 24-hour race, it’s a marathon, not a sprint. Also, weather conditions overnight always have an impact on the running order. Even with pit stops and challenging weather, the No. 66 car kept going to the front, regardless of who was at the wheel.
“The win made me very uncomfortable to watch. And sweaty,” said Hand, who with Bourdais watched Müller take the checkered flag with the No. 66 just as they did at Le Mans. “I told my family at home before I left that I had a good feeling about this race. I really felt like we could win. We worked really well together. That’s what makes a difference. The three of us together, you may not think a German dude, a French guy who has a bunch of IndyCar championships and a guy from California would work together the best, but we do really work well together.”
“This is a great win for our GT program,” said Raj Nair, executive vice president of Global Product Development and chief technical officer, Ford Motor Company. “It's a credit to everyone involved, from our Ford team to Ganassi, Roush Yates, Multimatic and Michelin. Conditions were very difficult throughout much of the race, but that winning car had no issues at all against some of the best competition in the sport. There's a lot to be proud of with this win and we hope it's the start of a great season for our teams."
This victory comes 51 years after Ford’s first win at the event when a Ford GT40 won the first-ever 24-hour race at Daytona in 1966. Winning at Daytona gives Ford Chip Ganassi Racing a big boost of confidence going into the rest of the IMSA and FIA WEC seasons. “It’s a proud day for everyone at Ford,” said Dave Pericak, global director, Ford Performance. “It's a great way to start 2017, and we couldn't be more proud of everyone who worked so hard to prepare for this race."