Photo: Ford

Ford completes its quest, wins Le Mans again 50 years later

4 Comments

The Ford GT came back to Le Mans with one goal and one goal only: to win the 24 Hours of Le Mans 50 years after the memorable and legendary 1-2-3 in 1966 with the Ford GT40.

Following a dominant performance in the GTE-Pro class all week with a car that was clearly the pacesetter, plus a car that was super reliable thanks to the work and efforts of the Chip Ganassi Racing and Multimatic crews, the car has done just that.

The trio of Joey Hand, Dirk Mueller and Sebastien Bourdais will go down in history as the trio that delivered the accomplishment, driving the No. 68 Ford Chip Ganassi Team US Ford GT, one of the two IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Fords joining the two full season FIA World Endurance Championship Fords.

It’s the first Le Mans win for all three drivers, and particularly Bourdais who was born in Le Mans, it’s going to mean quite a lot.

IMSA teams have locked out the class podium, with the No. 82 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTE and second U.S.-entered Ford – the No. 69 entry – completing the top three in class.

Giancarlo Fisichella, Toni Vilander and Matteo Malucelli (Risi) and Scott Dixon, Ryan Briscoe and Richard Westbrook (Ford 69) completed great drives of their own.

It all looked set to go away from Risi in the last half hour courtesy of a controversial leader light penalty assessed, although the team stayed out and did not serve the penalty. Once the podium ceremony began, the car was not demoted.

After the race was complete, two post-race time penalties were assessed, but they didn’t change the outcome.

The No. 68 Ford received a total of minute and 10 seconds assessed for two separate penalties, while the Risi Ferrari was docked 20 seconds for not adhering to the black and orange flag assessed to serve that penalty.

While the No. 68 Ford was flawless it wasn’t the only U.S. entry to post success in the GTE classes.

The same was true in GTE-Am, with Scuderia Corsa going two better from a podium last year to win for the first time at Le Mans itself – a fantastic effort from Giacomo Mattioli’s Los Angeles-based team, with NBCSN IndyCar analyst Townsend Bell winning along with co-drivers Bill Sweedler and Jeff Segal.

The remainder of the GTE-Am class podium was the No. 83 AF Corse Ferrari (Emmanuel Collard, Rui Aguas, Francois Perrodo) and the No. 88 Abu Dhabi Proton Racing Porsche 911 RSR (Patrick Long, David Heinemeier Hansson, Khaled Al Qubaisi). Collard made a late race of “DHH” for second in class.

The frustration beyond Ford and Ferrari in GTE-Pro occurred for Aston Martin, Corvette and Porsche, which were never factors.

McLaren F1 drivers and senior management agree to pay cuts

Clive Mason/Getty Images
Leave a comment

McLaren Formula One drivers Carlos Sainz Jr. and Lando Norris are taking pay cuts, while the team is furloughing other employees as part of protective cost-cutting during the coronavirus pandemic.

With F1 racing suspended, McLaren said both drivers and senior management, including chief executive Zak Brown, all agreed to voluntary pay decreases. No figure was given, but McLaren said the percentage of the cut is the same for all employees who are not furloughed.

McLaren said in an email that “these measures are focused on protecting jobs in the short term to ensure our employees return to full-time work as the economy recovers.”

Sainz Jr. tweeted his support, saying “I fully understand these tough decisions and I have obviously decided to take a pay cut. We are all in this together.”

The first eight races of the 22-race campaign have been called off because of the virus. The season-opening Australian GP and the showpiece Monaco GP have been canceled, while the others might be rescheduled.

There is no date set for when the season might start, with the Canadian GP the next scheduled race on the disrupted calendar on June 14.

The season is scheduled to finish with the Abu Dhabi GP on Nov. 29, but F1 organizers previously said they anticipated that “the season end date will extend beyond our original end date.”

To further save costs and potentially gain time, engine manufacturers and teams are observing a three-week factory shutdown period. It normally would have been two weeks and would have taken place during the midseason summer break.