Ford's return to the world sports car racing stage moved a step closer this week after the Chip Ganassi Racing team completed a two day private test with the manufacturer's new GT race car at the Daytona International Speedway in Florida.
The GT - which will contest the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and the FIA World Endurance Championship next year - was driven by Ganassi Daytona Prototype drivers Scott Pruett and Joey Hand during the test which was described as 'good' by Chip Ganassi Racing managing director Mike Hull.
The trip to Daytona marked the beginning of Ganassi's development of the car after initial testing was carried out by Ford partner and builder Multimac.
"We've been part of what Multimatic has been doing with their testing, but this was our first time out on our own, the car has a lot of potential," said Hull. "It was a lot of fun to put some miles on the first production racecar,"
"It's a nice racecar. As a finished car delivered to us by Multimatic, the Ford GT is one of - if not the - finest cars from a manufacturer we've ever received."
After overcoming some early electrical problems, the team logged many miles of the 3.56 mile course, working on setup and trying out a variety of damper options.
"Testing isn't just about what works; you learn just as much from whatever was wide of the mark, and in this case, we had some dampers that we thought would be helpful, but our drivers didn't care for them" said Hull. "And that's where testing is also invaluable. You can build things away from the track that you think will really help the car, but if they don't complement the driving style of the people strapped into the car, it doesn't really matter how what you've come up with."
"This gave us a lot of direction on what our drivers felt the car needed, and what they needed personally to get the most out of the car," he added.
Hand, who just days before the test was behind the wheel of Ganassi's Daytona prototype at Petit Le Mans, was full of praise for the new car following his outing at the home of the Rolex 24 Hours.
"I've loved racing the Ford EcoBoost Daytona Prototype this year with Ganassi, and moving from that car just a few days ago at Road Atlanta to the Ford GT at Daytona has been a great transition," said Hand. "The biggest thing about this car is the only GT car I've driven prior to the Ford was a German one which had the engine up front; everything else has been more of a touring car, and this was a new experience."
"People ask how it feels compared to a front-engine car, or even the
DP with the engine in the back, but when you're driving the GT, you
don't really notice it; the car just works," he added. "The steering,
the braking, and all the normal stuff you interact with just worked. I
expected it to handle some kind of way that made you think of where the
engine is located, but it really didn't. It was pretty smooth and
With the early testing out of the way, the team head back to their base
in Indianapolis before maiking their way back to Florida later this
month to continue their on track preparations at Sebring International