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.