[dropcap]W[/dropcap]ith a dramatic Le Mans 24 Hours GTE Pro class victory penultimate week, Ford Motor Company has announced that its factory-supported Ford GT race programme will continue for a minimum of three extra years in both IMSA and FIA WEC competitions.
Raj Nair, Ford executive vice president and chief technical officer said that the company wanted to make sure everyone knows that Ford is committed to sports car racing globally with both WEC and IMSA, noting, “The stated goal of our Ford GT programme was to win Le Mans, and we’re very proud that we were able to do that in our first year. To commit to a full, four-year assault on both the IMSA and WEC championships shows how serious we are about taking Ford GT racing around the world.
Raj was clear to all that care to listen that, “Ford is in motorsport to win races and championships, but just as importantly we are using it to develop our engineering expertise and help develop advancements for production vehicles like EcoBoost engines, advanced aerodynamics and lightweight materials that consumers can use in Ford production vehicles going forward.
Dave Pericak, the global director on Ford Performance did not hide his excitement, “We’re excited and feel the extension of this Ford GT race programme sends an important message to the industry and to enthusiasts that we are committed to global racing at Ford”, asserting that the giant auto company “remain committed to doing racing the right way.
Dave further stressed, “The Ford GT programme is a perfect example of how we are using our racing efforts to help improve the products that Ford consumers can drive every day. Developing the GT production car and the race car at the same time has been a challenging task for everyone, but it has also showed how the production vehicle side and racing side of Ford Performance can work together to benefit everyone.”
The first-year programme currently consists of two Ford GT race cars in IMSA WeatherTech Sports car Championship competition, and two Ford GT race cars in the FIA World Endurance Championship.
The programme scored a 1-3-4 GTE Pro class finish at Le Mans on June 19, with France’s Sébastien Bourdais, USA’s Joey Hand and Germany’s Dirk Müller driving the winning No. 68 Ford GT effort.
The IMSA programme also scored Ford GT’s first victory in May at Laguna Seca with Richard Westbrook and Ryan Briscoe taking the victory, while the WEC programme scored its first podium with a second-place finish at Spa-Franco champs, with Marino Franchitti, Andy Priaux and Harry Tincknell on the wheels.
Ford GT drivers Billy Johnson, Olivier Pla and Stefan Mücke also currently lead the WEC GT Drivers’ Cup standings.
The IMSA programme resumed action last weekend with the Sahlen’s 6 Hour of the Glen at Watkins Glen, New York., while WEC action continues on July 24 at the 6 Hours of Nürburgring in Germany.
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