38 JULY 2017
ast year Ford returned to Le Mans and
beat Ferrari – just as it had 50 years before.
It did so with a U.S./UK program headed by
one of the biggest names in U.S. racing –
for Shelby American read Chip Ganassi
Racing – and running a fleet of four cars
carrying design cues from its original GT40.
There was a major difference, however:
this time they were not the biggest dogs in
the yard. Instead they were involved in a
GTE Pro class catfight against Aston Martin,
Chevrolet and Porsche, as well as Ferrari.
Remarkably the new boys finished 1- 3-4.
For 2017, Ganassi’s IMSA Weather Tech
SportsCar Championship squad and FIA
World Endurance Championship team are
joining forces again for another four-car
assault aimed at retaining their crown –
like Ford did 50 years ago.
And just like 50 years ago, it’s a
massive logistical undertaking that
begins months ahead of the race and
involves a combined headcount well into
three figures. Indianapolis-based Ford
Chip Ganassi Team USA is running the
same cars at Le Mans as in the IMSA
series, but it’s not just the cars and crew
that have to make the journey across the
pond. Spares and equipment need to be
shipped, too – a process that began even
before the U.S.-based Fords had taken part
in a final, bruising pre-Le Mans IMSA
appearance at COTA in early May.
After GT #003 won GTE Pro at Le Mans in 2016,
with Joey Hand, Dirk Muller and Sebastien Bourdais,
it completed the IMSA season before retirement.
WON AND (ALMOST) DONE
Ford’s 2017 Le Mans assault is a
multi-continent affair. But as its
GTE Pro class win last year proved,
it’s an approach that works.
WORDS Gary Watkins/Paul Fearnley
MAIN IMAGE Barry Cantrell/LAT