Perhaps sports car racing’s worst kept secret has been formally revealed today at Homestead-Miami Speedway, site of NASCAR’s Ford Championship Weekend.
Here is the full release as the Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT lineup is now, officially public:
Ford Chip Ganassi Racing officially announced today the four drivers who will compete in the all-new Ford GT for the 2016 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
Drivers Ryan Briscoe, Richard Westbrook, Dirk Müller and Joey Hand have been selected for full-time rides in the two Ford GTs that will compete in the full IMSA WeatherTech schedule next year.
Hand and Müller will co-drive the No. 66 Ford GT, while Briscoe and Westbrook take the reins of the No. 67 Ford GT. Fans of Ford lore and sports car racing will immediately take note of the historic significance of the car numbers – the original predecessor of the Ford GT, the Ford GT-40, won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1966 and 1967. Ford marks the 50th anniversary of that first significant win with the return of the Ford GT to Le Mans in 2016.
The IMSA lineup for Daytona represents a true global effort, with drivers from the United States (Hand), United Kingdom (Westbrook), Australia (Briscoe) and Germany (Müller).
“We can’t say enough about how proud we are to present this group of drivers,” said Raj Nair, Ford Group Vice President, Global Product Development and Chief Technical Officer. “This goes straight to the heart of everything we do at Ford, and selecting the right drivers for the Ford GT racing program is just as important as building the car. We believe we have the best car, and now we have the best drivers to match.”
“What I look for in a driver first of all is heart,” said Chip Ganassi, owner of Ford Chip Ganassi Racing. “At this level, all drivers are fast. We want drivers that can work well with others. Drivers that have endurance car experience. Drivers that have been to Le Mans. All these things add up. It’s a team of drivers that act like they’ve been together for quite a while already.”
While Ford’s history with sports car racing stretches back to the 1960s, today’s factory effort plays an important role in developing Ford Motor Company’s EcoBoost technology. Ford’s twin-turbo 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 raced to three wins with Ford Chip Ganassi Racing, including a victory in the prestigious 12 Hours of Sebring, seven podiums and more than 15,000 endurance racing miles in its first season of IMSA competition in 2014. In 2015, the team and engine won the Rolex 24 At Daytona and added another win at Circuit of the Americas (COTA) in the Lone Star Le Mans.
The all-new Ford GT supercar is the culmination of years of Ford innovations in lightweighting, aerodynamics and ultra-efficient Ford EcoBoost engines. Ford announced it would return to GT racing with the Ford GT last June at the 2015 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Ganassi’s team has captured seven IMSA championship titles, 46 wins and has six overall victories at the Rolex 24 At Daytona.