Ford Authority

Bad Luck At Petit Le Mans Costs Ford The IMSA Manufacturer’s Championship

Last weekend’s Motul Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta, the final event on the 2017 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship calendar, was a bit of a mixed bag for Ford Performance. The No. 67 Ford GT started in second from the grid and was running third in the GTLM class after the last restart of the day when it was pushed off-track by a Prototype car.

The No. 67 was forced to pit for a new rear assembly about 20 minutes from the end of the race, losing five positions to finish in eighth. Fellow Chip Ganassi Racing car No. 66 didn’t fare much better, crossing the line in seventh in its class.

Before Petit Le Mans, Ford had been in contention for the manufacturer’s championship, and Ford Chip Ganassi Racing was in the running for the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Championship. That championship focuses on the four big endurance events of the IMSA season: Daytona, Sebring, Watkins Glen, and Petit Le Mans.

“We had a really good run today,” said Richard Westbrook, one of the drivers of the No. 67 Ford GT. “We set the car up for the night and we were flying in the end. It was really coming to us. The crew worked really hard to get the right balance for the race and it was really unfortunate to see all that work be wasted by a move by another car. We’re disappointed, but we can be proud of the effort we put in today and we’ll look forward to next year.”

Fellow Ford Chip Ganassi Racing driver Joey Hand said he consoles himself at times like these by remembering that the team won Le Mans and Daytona.

“We have won some big races as a team and done some really great things as a program since this thing started with Ford and Chip Ganassi Racing,” Hand said. “The things we have accomplished in such a short amount of time are pretty awesome. Just because we didn’t win (the championship) this year doesn’t mean we didn’t succeed. We won races this year and we learned a lot about this program, and the guys and gals at Ford Chip Ganassi Racing will come back even stronger next year.”

To put that in numerical terms, Ford Chip Ganassi Racing managed two wins, eight podiums, and five starts from pole in the 2017 IMSA season, and the Nos. 66 and 67 Ford GT teams closed out the season in third and fourth, respectively.

Aaron Brzozowski is a writer and motoring enthusiast from Detroit with an affinity for '80s German steel. He is not active on the Twitter these days, but you may send him a courier pigeon.

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