Taking the opportunity with the new regulations in the LMGTE category, Ford presented a fantastic looking Ford GT model that start representing the manufacturer of the blue oval in North American and worldwide basis, just leaving the drivers question to a later date, which proved to bring an interesting lineup given the announcement made this Tuesday (5).
The four guys that will drive the pair of Ford GT cars in the FIA World Endurance Championship in 2016 will be Andy Priaulx, Stefan Mücke, Olivier Pla and Marino Franchitti, and knowing the possible names that were published as being in Ford's wishlist, it would be difficult to have a better outcome. Ford itself made an excellent job by snatching 3 out of 4 drivers from other manufacturers, and two of these are coming after spending the 2015 season in LMGTE machinery.
Andy Priaulx until today was traditionally remembered as a BMW guy due to his 13 years of relationship with the bavarian manufacturer, which brought to him three straight World Touring Car Championship titles, as well a title in both the European Touring Car Championship and in the Nürburgring 24 Hours. His experience with LMGTE machinery is huge, as he participated as one of the drivers of the BMW M3 E92 and BMW Z4 GTLM models. His 2015 season was spent splitting time between the European Le Mans Series and the British Touring Car Championship.
Stefan Mücke was another driver with a huge relationship with his previous home, as he formed one of the best driver pairings in the recent sportscar scene with Darren Turner in Aston Martin, and while most of his titles weren't in LMGTE cars, he practically lived with the Vantage V8 model in its GT2 and LMGTE iterations during various years.
Olivier Pla spent his 2015 driving for Nissan in the LMP1, LMP2 and GT3 fronts, although limited only to machines made by Onroak Automotive. Although the Frenchman is pretty quick, he was essentially a LMP2 driver until the moment with few experiences in GT racing, so the LMGTE class is an unexplored territory for him. Assuming that he will adapt quickly to the Ford GT, he can be pretty reliable.
Marino Franchitti competed in all sorts of machinery during his 15 years of sportscar racing, but his experience leans towards LMP2 and GT2 cars. Although his last GT participation at Le Mans was with an Aston Martin Vantage V8, he has a previous relationship with the Ford-powered Panoz Esperante GT-LM, which dates back from the mid-2000s.
Driver pairings will still be confirmed, and Ford is still running against time and other things to put their pair of Chip Ganassi Racing cars alongside the Multimatic-run cars in the 24 Hours of Le Mans grid.
PHOTO: Ford Performance