Tuesday 5 January 2016

Ford reveals drivers for 2016 WEC campaign

Today Ford Chip Ganassi Racing announced their driver line-up for the all-new Ford GT in the World Endurance Championship.

Ford will be running two cars in the 2016 WEC and two in the Weathertech SportsCar Championship in the USA. The intention is to race with both teams at Le Mans in June to create a four car assault in the GTE Pro class during the Le Mans 24 Hours, exactly 50 years after Fords historic 1-2-3 win. The battle in the GTE Pro class will be fierce this year with the likes of Ford, Porsche, Aston Martin, Ferrari and Corvette battling it out for victory.

Marino Franchitti, Stefan Mücke, Olivier Pla and Andy Priaulx will race the Ford GT in the WEC, Richard Westbrook, Dirk Müller, Joey Hand and Ryan Briscoe will contest the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. Stefan Mücke will also race at the Daytona 24h at the end of this month, sharing the car with Ryan Briscoe and Richard Westbrook.

Chip Ganassi, owner of Ford Chip Ganassi Racing said to be excited to be at the team HQ in the UK to launch the WEC team.  "Just like when we announced the Ford GT drivers for the WeatherTech Sportscar Championship last month, we've again chosen drivers with heart, speed and proven endurance racing credentials. It's a global team running in two championships and I can't wait for the racing to begin."

WEC Ford Chip Ganassi Racing team principal - Multimatic's George Howard Chapell - has already led a team to victory at Le Mans on three occasions.  "It doesn't get ane more competititve than the Le Mans 24 Hours but that is what makes winning so special", said Howard-Chapell.  "Everything has to be perfect and even then you still need luck on your side to cross the line first. The Ford GT has been built to return to Le Mans and these four drivers all know what it takes to compete against the toughest competition in the world."

Introducing the WEC Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Drivers

Marino Franchitti is part of a family where performance is hard-wired into their DNA. He won the 12 Hours of Sebring with Chip Ganassi Racing-Ford in 2014 -- Ford's first overall win there since 1969.
From my first test in the Ford GT I fell in love with it and just wanted to drive it more and more. 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.”

Stefan Mücke is a proven race winner. The German has competed in the GTE Pro class of WEC since the series’ formation in 2012, and knows the World Endurance Championship inside and out.
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.”

Olivier Pla is one of sportscar racing’s best-kept secrets. The quiet Frenchman is known for his incredible car control and knows what it takes to win at the highest level.
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.”

Andy Priaulx is a triple World Touring Car Champion who has won the Nürburgring 24 Hours, the Sebring 12 Hours, and stood on the podium at Le Mans.
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.

Kristof Vermeulen.