Race Weekend Central

Ford, Chip Ganassi Racing Announce Full-Time IMSA Factory Drivers for 2016

On Saturday morning, Ford Performance and Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates unveiled their new two-car factory Ford GT effort at Homestead-Miami Speedway that will compete full-time in IMSA’s WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s GT-Le Mans class in 2016. The organization had a rather difficult choice as over 40 professional sports car racers with very strong resumes showed interest in one of the full-time rides.

The No. 66 entry will be shared by Dirk Müller and Joey Hand, while the No. 67 will be shared by Richard Westbrook and Ryan Briscoe. All four drivers have extensive backgrounds in sports cars.

Hand is the only one of the four drivers who competed with CGRFS in 2015, sharing the team’s Riley Ford EcoBoost with Scott Pruett full-time. Prior to that, Hand competed in DTM in Europe and in a number of sports car series here in the United States. He’s very excited to earn a full factory ride.

“I’m very proud to be part of this program,” Hand said during the Ford Performance press conference. “Clearly, this is a big deal. This GT car is a great-looking car. Everybody seems to love it and I think it’s cool to see how Ford has kind of honored the history of the old GT40 and now bringing the new technology of today. It’s gonna be a great racecar for us and the testing has gone really well. I’ve driven five or six different tests with from the beginning. It feels like a racecar. It feels good.  The car doesn’t do anything weird, which is a very good start for a brand new car.”

Müller has over 15 years of experience in sports cars, launched by a class win at the Rolex 24 in a Porsche 911 GT1 Evo back in 1998. Müller has raced in the FIA GT Championship, the World Touring Car Championship, the American Le Mans Series, and various others in a professional capacity.

Briscoe has previously raced two different years (2004 and 2014) for Chip Ganassi in the Verizon IndyCar Series. Most recently, Briscoe was an endurance race driver for Corvette Racing. In that role, he took class victories at Daytona and Sebring. Briscoe has also driven for Toyota in Formula One and Level 5 Motorsports in the American Le Mans Series.

Westbrook comes to CGRFS after spending the last four years driving full-time for Spirit of Daytona Racing/VisitFlorida.com Racing. He started with the team when they competed in Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series and stayed with them after the merger formed TUSC. In addition, Westbrook is a former factory racer for Corvette Racing in the American Le Mans Series and has competed at Le Mans five times.

The Ford GT will debut in the 54th running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona in January, the opening race of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. A separate operation will run two Ford GTs full-time in the FIA World Endurance Championship’s GTE-Pro class. A driver lineup for that team will be announced at a later date.

About the author

2021 Phil Allaway Headshot Phil Allaway

Phil Allaway has three primary roles at Frontstretch. He's the manager of the site's FREE e-mail newsletter that publishes Monday-Friday and occasionally on weekends. He keeps TV broadcasters honest with weekly editions of Couch Potato Tuesday and serves as the site's Sports Car racing editor.

Outside of Frontstretch, Phil is the press officer for Lebanon Valley Speedway in West Lebanon, N.Y. He covers all the action on the high-banked dirt track from regular DIRTcar Modified racing to occasional visits from touring series such as the Super DIRTcar Series.

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