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Ford, Ganassi Announce Driver Lineup for GT Program

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Saturday, November 21 2015
The Ford GT which will debut next season.

The Ford GT which will debut next season.

By Jim Pedley | Managing Editor
RacinToday.com

Ford and Chip Ganassi Racing on Saturday announced their driver lineup for next year’s debut of the Ford GT in the WeatherTech Sports Car Challenge.

Ryan Briscoe, Richard Westbrook, Dirk Müller and Joey Hand have been selected for full-time rides in the two Ford GTs.

Hand and Müller will co-drive the No. 66 Ford GT, while Briscoe and Westbrook take the reins of the No. 67 Ford GT.

“Let me start by saying what an honor it is to be chosen by Ford to take them back 50 years later to Le Mans,” Chip Ganassi said.

During a press conference at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Ganassi was asked about his selection process for drivers.

“When word snuck out that we were involved in this program,” Ganassi said, “I think between myself and Mike Hull (of CGR) we had about 40 drivers contact us and I think it goes without saying, as you all know, at this level of motorsport you now that all drivers have a lot of talent and a lot of drivers have the tools that are necessary to take them into a program like this.

They (his drivers) have the experience.  They have the tools.  They have the will.  They have the talent.  I think Mike and I have had the pleasure over the years of working with a lot of great drivers and I think when you look at the guys behind me one of the first things I look for, as many of you know already, in drivers is if you take the fact that they have the talent and all the tools necessary, I kind of go to heart.  I want to know what kind of heart they have, and I think in a program like this, and obviously in endurance racing, you want to hand the car off like you want it handed to you, and you have to perform day in and day out in a very unselfish manner.  I don’t think we could have picked four better drivers to do that.

“Just yesterday unannounced they had a little team building exercise off of Key Largo on a fishing boat, the four of them, and Müller caught his first fish ever, so I thought that was a good team building exercise.  We’re happy to have these four guys with us.  They show a lot of heart and they have the talent obviously, and we’re looking forward to beginning racing with them in late January.”

Ganassi’s team has captured seven IMSA championship titles, 46 wins and has six overall victories at the Rolex 24 At Daytona.

Hand joined CGR in 2015, where he teamed with Scott Pruett in the Ford-powered Daytona Prototype class.

“Clearly, this is a big deal,” Hand said. “This GT car is a great-looking car.  Everybody seems to love it and I think it’s cool to see how Ford has kind of honored the history of the old GT40 and now bringing the new technology of today.  When you see the car it’s cool-looking.  It’s got a great shape and great aerodynamic lines.  It’s gonna be a great race car for us and the testing has gone really well.

“I’ve driven five or six different test days with it from the beginning.  As soon as you get in the car everybody asks, ‘What does it feel like?’  It feels like a race car.  It feels good.  The car doesn’t do anything weird, which is a very good start for a brand new car.  We’re excited about it.  Racing is a lot about team and I know being with Chip Ganassi and, fortunately for me, a whole year at Ford, we have a great team behind us from everybody at Ford to everybody at Chip Ganassi.  They’ve done a great job putting together all those people and it’s a pleasure to be back with my old buddy, Dirk Müller, and to get to know Ryan Briscoe and Richard Westbrook, it’s gonna be a fun year that’s for sure.”

| Managing Editor, RacinToday.com Saturday, November 21 2015
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