Ford Chip Ganassi Racing have revealed the 4 drivers that will pilot the new Ford GT in the 2016 World Endurance Championship. Two cars will be fielded by the team in the 9 round championship starting from April 17th at Silverstone.
The four drivers announced include former World Touring Car champion Andy Priaulx, who announced at the end of last year that he would end his long-standing affiliation with BMW to join Ford. The British driver competed in the British Touring Car Championship last year and won a number of races for West Surray Racing. Priaulx has also competed in a number of endurance races, having won at the Nurburgring Nordschleife and Sebring. He also finished on the podium at Le Mans in 2011 in the GTE class.
“A new project is always exciting but for me to be driving for Ford in the WEC is just on another level,” Priaulx said. “I can’t wait to get behind the wheel of the car and start the preparations for the season. Any motorsport fan will remember the iconic Ford GT40 cars of the past, and for me to be part of this programme 50 years after Ford’s historic win at Le Mans is such a privilege.
Marino Franchitti will also join him in a Ford GT. Marino is an experienced endurance racer, having previously won the 12 hours of Sebring with Chip Ganassi Racing in a Ford 2 years ago; the first win for a Ford at Sebring since 1969. He has already driven the new Ford GT in testing and he commented that he instantly “fell in love with it”.
“It’s incredible to be part of Ford’s return to international GT racing and to go to Le Mans 50 years after Ford’s first win there will be extremely special.” Franchitti said. “The car feels great to drive; the new LM GTE rules certainly move the performance of a GT car to new levels and Ford and their partners have built a fantastic car.”
Another experienced endurance racer will join Priaulx and Franchitti. Stefan Mücke has driven in the GTE class of the World Endurance Championship since 2012 for Aston Martin.
“I’m very excited to be part of such a great programme, especially with the history that the Ford GT has at Le Mans,” Mücke said. “Le Mans is a very special race for every driver. It is the one that we all want to win because it is such a difficult thing to do. I have come close in the past and now I hope that with Ford we can go all the way.”
The final driver confirmed is Frenchman Olivier Pla. Olivier has competed in every Le Mans 24 Hour race for the last 8 years. Last year he drove for Nissan in their radical LMP GT-R Nismo concept; only for it to end in retirement. He previously finished the race 2nd in the LMP2 class in 2013.
“It’s a huge honour for me to represent Ford – the Ford GT is a very special car and it is a privilege for me to drive it. The level of competition is going to be incredibly high in WEC and I can’t wait to race. Personally as a Frenchman, lining up at Le Mans as a Ford GT driver will be something very special.”
Ford will make it’s return to the World Endurance Championship 50 years after finishing 1-2-3 in the Le Mans 24 Hours in 1966.
“Make no mistake, we are racing to win,” said Dave Pericak, Ford Performance global director. “To compete at this level you need the best car, the best team and the best drivers, and we have selected Stefan, Olivier, Andy and Marino to drive the Ford GT to take on the best in the world.”
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