The first ever FIA World Endurance Championship “Super Season” gets underway this weekend at Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium. After completing an intensive winter test programme, the Ford Chip Ganassi Racing team is stronger than ever and ready for what is expected to be the most competitive GTE Pro class battle ever.
Michelin has produced a new tyre for 2018, so much of the test programme has focused on getting the most from the new rubber. Spa will be the first opportunity to see who has done the best job on that front.
“The Super Season is a huge task for the team as it contains two Le Mans 24 Hours and is spread over a long period so we have to make sure we stay focused the whole time,” said Mark Rushbrook, global director of Ford Performance Motorsport. “We’re thrilled to have been invited to run four Ford GTs at Le Mans again this summer and we will do everything in our power to make sure all four GTs ‘Go Like Hell’. Our target is to win at Le Mans, both times, and to win the championships in both WEC and IMSA. We’ve started well in IMSA where we are running first in the GTLM driver, team and manufacturer’s championships. We’re aiming high!”
Ford will face stiff competition from Ferrari, BMW, Aston Martin and Porsche during the WEC Super Season, with Corvette joining the fight at Le Mans. When the level of competition is as high as it is in GTE Pro you need a team of exceptional drivers, and Ford is delighted to retain Stefan Mücke (GER) and Olivier Pla (FRA) in the #66 GT and Andy Priaulx (GB) and Harry Tincknell (GB) in the #67. Joining them for Spa and Le Mans are team regular Billy Johnson (US) in #66 and Indycar superstar Tony Kanaan (BRA) in the #67 GT.
“I’m really looking forward to Spa and the start of the Super Season,” Mücke said. “We’re excited to start this special season that has two Le Mans 24 Hours in the schedule. We have new competition coming with new cars and a very big GTE Pro field for Le Mans. It’s going to be a tough season with tough racing but that’s exactly what we want. We know the Ford GT well now; every bolt and every detail. We’ve been very busy over the winter especially with tyre testing and making sure every detail of the car is perfect. I think we are stronger than ever, better prepared than ever, and that’s why I think we have a very good chance this year.”
The Ford Chip Ganassi Racing team has had a busy winter, running through a detailed test programme to make sure everything is ready for Spa. This has included many pit stop drills for the team as the rules governing pit stops have been updated for 2018. Teams are now permitted to change tyres at the same time as refuelling the cars, which will make the stops faster and provide more excitement in the pits.
After coming tantalisingly close to winning his first world championship in 2017, Harry Tincknell has his eyes on the prize.
“I think this season is our best chance of winning the championship,” Tincknell said. “The circuits we go to all suit the Ford GT and the slow speed tracks have all been removed from the schedule. Teaming up again with Andy and keeping our core crew together is great for continuity and I think we’ve taken another step forward over the winter. We’ve won four races together and had a second at Le Mans, so clearly the partnership is working and we will look for a strong start at Spa. We will have Tony with us at the start of the season too, and we all know what an incredible competitor he is. We were right in contention in second place last year at Spa before an electrical issue dropped us down a lap, but testing there went really well this month and I’m really hopeful to get the championship off to flying start.”
The 6 Hours of Spa gets underway on Saturday, May 5 at 12:30 GMT.