Monday, August 14, 2023

RETRO: Iconic Ford GT Racecar Bows Out for Third Time

As will we ever see a fourth iteration of this venerable, iconic Sports Car on Racetracks around the Globe?


By now, especially since it was nearly Gory four years ago, Zoinks! I'm Arse-suming Y'all have totally forgotten that the October 2019's Petit Le Mans signaled the end of the much vaunted Chip Ganassi Racing (CGR) Werks' Ford GT racing programme. When those two IMSA Grand Touring Le Mans Spec Ford GT's crossed the finish line with Ryan Briscoe behind the Keyboard of his No. 67 mount gamely chasing the class winning #62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTE, El Correctomundo?


As Briscoe finished 11th Overall, with the Seester’ #66 finishing 17th Overall…


Yet in for a Pound, in for a penny? Here’s what I’ve gleamed for the final three year’s of Cheeps’ wonderful Ford GT Werks’ programme.



The second year of Ye Cheepster’s, nee chip Ganassi’s Werks’ Ford GT racing programme started off with a Bang! When the No. 66 CGR Ford GT with Joey Hand, Dirk Mueller and le Hamburgular’, Sealmeister B’ ergo Monsieur Bourdais winning the season opening Rolex 24's GT Le Mans Category. With Hand & Mueller claiming Thar second W' later that season at road America.


Across thoust Gory Puddle in what Racer’s Marshall Pruett enjoys calling the “Weckity Wec”, nee FIA World Endurance Championship. (WEC) The season got off to a great start when CGR’s No. 67 was victorious with Pipo Derani, Harry Tincknell and Andy Priaulx behind it’s Keyboard at Bloody Silverstone’s opening round.


Once again for Le Mans, (Round 3) CGR entered it’s four cars. With it’s No. 67 Ford UK WEC entry finishing P18 Overall and second in class, behind the winning No. 97 Aston Martin Vantage.


With it’s Seester’ No. 66 WEC entry finishing P27 overall and 10th in class.


Whilst it’s two IMSA WeatherTech sportscar  Championship (Ford USA) Nos. 68-69 entries finished in lockstep with each other. With the No. 68 finishing sixth in the LMGTE Pro class and 22nd overall. And the No. 69 finished 23rd overall and seventh in class.


Then at Round 8 at Shanghai, the Ford UK entry of Tincknell and Priaulx scored the No. 67’s second and final WEC victory of the season.



For Year three, the Ford GT won it's second consecutive 24 Hours of Daytona race, this time with the #67 piloted by it's regular crew of Ryan Briscoe and Richard Westbrook, with some Cool Kiwi Bloke commonly referred to as The Iceman, aka Scott Dixon as it's third driver.


The Seester' #66 won the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s Watkins Glen Six Hours Enduro with regulars Joey Hand and Dirk Mueller, followed by the two cars playing Leapfrog upon the Podium's top step. As the No. 67 won next time out at Mosport, followed immediately by the No. 66 at Lime Rock, followed by the #67 winning at Road America - with the Ford GT's sweeping Four races in-a-row!


Meanwhile, making things messy, the FIA decided to switch to an bi-yearly calendar for the 2018-19 season, for which Ganassi’s Ford UK operation won just one lone race. When the No. 66 driven by Oliver Pla, Billy Johnson and Stefan Mucke took the top step at the season opening Six Hours of Spa-Francorchamps Class podium.



Stateside, on Ye IMSA championship trail, the two Werks’ Porsche 911 RSR’s dominated the season. With the Ford GT not scoring it’s first W’ until Round 8 at the venerable Lime Rock Park facility. As Ryan Briscoe and Richard Westbrook in the No. 67 were victorious. With the duo winning next time out at Road America.


Then at the penultimate round at Laguna Seca, Joey Hand and Dirk Mueller gave the Ford GT it’s final victory in IMSA competition, aboard the sister No. 66 entry.


As mentioned above, the FIA had moved to an Summer-Fall calendar, instituting it’s 2018-19 season, which featured two 24 Hours of Le Mans events. Wit the latter 2019 portion of the calendar beginning with that year’s super Sebring weekend.


Yet neither of Ganassi’s two Ford GT WEC entries didn’t win again, after winning at Spa the previous year.


And Le Mans was another disappointment, albeit three-fourths of the Ford GT Armada finished P-4-5-6 in the LMGTE Pro Class. With the WEC’s No. 67 finishing 23rd Overall. Followed by the IMSA No. 69 and WEC #66 in lockstep. With the second IMSA #68 entry being disqualified Post race!


Yet the even bigger news was the apparent LMGTE Am win of Ben Keating’s No. 85 Ford GT, the first “Privateer” ford GT effort, resplendent in beautiful Wynns livery. Having it’s Class victory taken away Post race! As it too, along with it’s Big Brother’s #68 entry were both DSQ’ed’, nee Disqualified for having illegal, oversized fuel tanks, Youch!


And then as noted above, the CGR Ford GT progamme came to it’s glorious end at Petit Le Mans, in what had always been a four year programme. Which in motor racing is an eternity!



Whilst the Doran Ford GT-R is denoted as a Mk VII variant, and the following Ganassi Ford GT’s racecars as Mk VIII models. Try as I might, I cannot find any information upon what the missing Ford GT40/GT Mk VI variant was? And apparently it’s a State Secret? Although perhaps the TOMS Japanese Ford GT300 is the mysterious Mk Vi racecar?