Ford Chip Ganassi squad chief Raj Nair says the team's results in the Silverstone 6 Hours will act as a 'good stepping stone' for its efforts returning to international endurance racing as it ramps up its preparation for Le Mans 24 Hours.
Ford marked its maiden outing in the FIA World Endurance Championship with a fourth and fifth place finish in the GTE-Pro category, with the #67 Ford GT of Andy Priaulx, Marino Franchitti and Harry Tincknell narrowly missing out on the class rostrum with the #66 of Stefan Mucke, Billy Johnson and Olivier Pla in fifth.
Ford executive vice president and chief technical officer Raj Nair says the manufacturer is feeling positive after its debut WEC outing and feels it has formed a useful base to build upon ahead of its return to Le Mans 24 Hours this June.
“Considering it was the first race with a new car and a new team we had a clean run,” Nair said. “We're very happy that the car ran well mechanically. We had a couple of issues; we were caught out on safety car timing and we lost radio with Olivier Pla towards the end of the race, which had an impact on strategy. This is a great start though and a good stepping stone to the Le Mans 24 Hours.”
Aside from typical opening lap scuffs the only drama of note either Ford car suffered was when Franchitti collided with the race-winning Porsche LMP1 machine but both escaped the incident unharmed and able to continue after spinning off.
“I really enjoyed it and I'm happy with fourth, although a podium would have been nice,” Franchitti's co-driver Tincknell said. “I didn't really focus on position though, I just drove as fast as I could and made sure I looked after my tyres.
“This was also my first ever world-class GT race so I had to quickly learn how to deal with the prototypes flying past me. We learned a lot this weekend and that is what we came here to do so thanks to the team who all worked incredibly hard.”
Ford and WEC moves on to the second round, the Spa 6 Hours on the 7th May, as the final build up race before the prestigious Le Mans 24 Hours on the 18-19 June.