Ford Chip Ganassi Racing has unveiled a four-nation line-up to compete in the all-new Ford GT for the 2016 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
Ryan Briscoe, Richard Westbrook, Dirk Müller and Joey Hand will all receive full-time rides in the two Ford GTs that the team has entered for next year's schedule. Hand and Müller will co-drive the #66 car, while Briscoe and Westbrook take the reins of the #67, with the both numbers carrying historic significance as the new car's original predecessor, the Ford GT-40, won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in both 1966 and 1967. Ford marks the 50th anniversary of that first significant win with the return of the Ford GT to Le Mans next year.
Ganassi's line-up, which will get its first action in the opening round at Daytona, represents a true global effort, with drivers from the United States, United Kingdom, Australia and Germany. Hand and Briscoe both return to the Ganassi fold having raced sportscars and Indycars for the team in previous seasons. Hand returns for his second full-time season with the ultra-successful operation after helping it finish fourth in the 2015 IMSA Prototype points standings, while Australian Briscoe rejoins the team after most recently running the #8 NTT DATA car in the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series. Muller, meanwhile, brings experience to the programme, having begun his IMSA career 17 years ago and since competed in 111 races in the series. Westbrook is also no slouch, having parlayed a promising karting and single-seater career into the 2009 FIA GT2 Championship title and a regular seat as a factory GT and prototype driver with Chevrolet.
“What I look for in a driver first of all is heart,” team owner Chip Ganassi explained, “At this level, all drivers are fast, so we want drivers that can work well with others. Drivers that have endurance car experience, drivers that have been to Le Mans - all these things add up. It's a team of drivers that act like they've been together for quite a while already.”