In 2018, Ford Motor Company brought home the Manufacturer Championship title in the 2018 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GT Le Mans class. This season, Ford will look to not only repeat their championship, but also secure a driver and team title–which was won by rival Corvette Racing in 2018. To kick off the 2019 IMSA season, drivers began working out the kinks at the Roar Before The 24.
Last weekend 47 cars gathered at Daytona International Speedway for three days of testing and tuning known as the Roar Before The 24. Of the 47 cars that were present at Roar, 37 have confirmed plans to compete full-time in the 2019 WeatherTech Championship as season-long entries. In addition to WeatherTech Championship testing, the Roar also included six test sessions for IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge race cars. The IMSA Prototype Challenge began its 2019 season with a three-hour Scouts of America race this past Saturday, Jan. 5.
Ford made itself known at the Roar Before The 24 and brought two Ford GT race cars which run in the GT Le Mans (GTLM) class. Five other cars in the GTLM class were present, too. Chevrolet, BMW, and Porsche brought two cars each, and Ferrari brought just one car for a total of seven GTLM cars.
Ford Chip Ganassi Racing, which has won each of the past two Rolex 24s in the GTLM class brought the No. 66 Ford GT race car and No. 67 GT. The No. 66 car took the 2017 Rolex 24 victory as well as a win in the 2016 24 Hours of Le Mans. The No. 67 car won the 2018 Rolex 24. Last year the No. 66 team consisting of drivers Joey Hand and Dirk Mueller secured the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup trophy, and scored the most points of any team in the IMSA season’s four long-format endurance races. As far as their competition is concerned, the No. 3 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R, which won both of the past two WeatherTech Championship GTLM driver’s championship titles, leads the two-car effort for the Corvette going into the 2019 season.
“All the ingredients are in here: fantastic cars, really, really good teams, good manufacturers, good drivers and it keeps getting better,” said Dirk Mueller, 2017 Rolex 24 GTLM winner and co-driver of the No. 66 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT with Joey Hand and Sebastien Bourdais. “It makes me somewhat proud to be part of it. It’s like a huge community and people outside it, they’re getting jealous.”
The off-season is almost over, which means that IMSA fans can finally rejoice as their favorite cars hit the track to do battle. With the WeatherTech Sportscar Championship quickly approaching, subscribe to Ford Authority and never miss a beat this race season.