For the competitors in the FIA World Endurance Championship ‘The Prologue’ test at Circuit Paul Ricard in the south of France heralds the dawn of a new season of racing. For the Ford Chip Ganassi Racing WEC team this test is the official start of the road to Le Mans.
The learning curve will be steep, as the team will compete in just two races –the 6 Hours of Silverstone and the 6 Hours of Spa – before arriving at Le Mans in a little over two months’ time so a comprehensive test programme for the Ford GT is vital.
“This is only the second time we’ve been on track with the full team and I’m pleased with how well everyone is working together,” commented WEC Team Principal, George Howard-Chappell. “We’ve managed to do a lot of laps here, steadily building up the mileage on the Ford GTs; this is an endurance championship after all. Where we are in relation to the competition will become clear at Silverstone.”
Both WEC Ford GTs have been running at The Prologue with the full Le Mans line-ups taking the wheel over the course of the two-day test. In the #66 Ford GT, Stefan Mücke has shared driving duties with Olivier Pla and Billy Johnson.
“The team is really coming together now,” said Mücke. “The three of us like the same things in the car so driver comfort won’t be an issue for us. We have completed some good race simulation work and I’m very happy to say there is a good feeling in the team and I think we have a good season ahead of us.”
The #67 Ford GT has seen Marino Franchitti sharing the workload with Andy Priaulx and Harry Tincknell.
“It’s really good to be on track with our competition for the first time,” said Franchitti. “We’re a new team so we’re still finding our way but there is already a great camaraderie between the two Ford GT crews. To win in the WEC everything has to be perfect. It’s going to be a dogfight but we’re looking forward to the battle.”
Although the official pre-season test is now over, Ford Chip Ganassi Racing will remain at Circuit Paul Ricard to complete an all-important endurance test on Monday and Tuesday. The first race of the 2016 FIA World Endurance Championship takes place at Silverstone on April 17.