ONE TEAM, ONE MISSION
Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK
driver Andy Priaulx is focused
on the 2017 24 Hours of
Le Mans, but still appreciates
the history and heritage of
FoMoCo at the famous enduro.
Did Ford’s history play a part
in your decision to join?
Yes it did, and I learned very
quickly after signing how big
that history is. When the Ford
family is at Le Mans telling you
how important it is to win, and
how important it was to Henry
Ford II to win it, and about the
falling out with Ferrari, there’s
such a buzz about it. Plus,
I took one look at the car and
knew it was going to be an
amazing program. I could see
that Ford was really serious.
I haven’t looked back once.
Have you driven a GT40?
I’ve had a play. It’s amazing.
If you look at it and our car
together, you can still see how
ahead of its time it was. Our
car is super hi-tech, with its
amazing aerodynamics and
electronics, but you can still
see and feel the GT40 in it.
Do you think the way that you
win Le Mans has changed?
The difference now is that you
go like hell for the full 24 hours.
Stroke it home and you will be
at the back. That’s just how it
is now. That said, with no
power steering and only two
drivers in a very fast car on a
track with very little safety, the
guys who won 50 years ago
were courageous and skilful.
Dry run... Using its U.S.- and UK-based cars and teams, Ford ran
four GTs in the 2017 Rolex 24 at
Daytona and won the GTLM class.
IN THE MAKING
Ford will also have a spare carbon
monocoque available, though it isn’t
stored on site at Le Mans. Spare cars are
not allowed within the regulations, unless
at the discretion of the stewards...
Ford has made much of the “one team”
philosophy, and that was demonstrated by
the co-operation between the two Ganassi
programs ahead of this year’s Rolex 24 at
Daytona, where Ford also ran four cars.
“Between the Roar and the race we had
15 to 18 guys from the WEC team over at
Ganassi’s Indianapolis shop preparing the
cars,” says Howard-Chappell. “We were
truly operating as one team.”
Each arm of the Ganassi Ford
operation runs its respective pair of WEC
and IMSA cars at Le Mans. Three of the
cars that will pound around the Circuit
de la Sarthe are the same ones that saw
service last year. The winning car from
the 2016 debut, chassis #003, has been
understandably retired from race duties,
though not before it had to complete the
remainder of the ’ 16 IMSA season.
“We use a mixture of sea and air freight,
and the first shipment left before COTA,”
says George Howard-Chappell, program
manager for the Ford GT racecar and team
principal of Multimatic-operated, Silverstone-
based Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK. “There’s
also a container of Le Mans-specific
equipment that we look after for them.”
The U.S. cars will be airfreighted to
France ahead of the Le Mans Test Day
on June 4, two weeks ahead of the June
17-18 race, where a section of the Le Mans
pits complex will be home to the cars for
the duration of their stay. You could almost
call it a little American enclave in France.
“For Le Mans we’ll have the two WEC
trucks with a massive vee awning
between them and a further awning on
the side,” says Howard-Chappell.
“Typically across the two WEC cars we’ll
have six or seven nose sections, which
means double that when we have four
cars at Le Mans. But then for something
like the electrical loom for the chassis,
there’ll only be one spare.”
Ford’s 1-3 finishing crews
celebrate with a selfie on the
2016 24 Hours of Le Mans
GTE Pro podium. Edsel Ford II
lets them get on with it...
(MAIN) A large and finely-tuned
logistics and support operation,
spanning two continents, goes
into ensuring four Ford GTs race
twice around the clock at the
24 Hours of Le Mans.