Chip Ganassi has officially announced which four drivers will pilot their two Ford GT entries for full-time in 2016.
Joey Hand, Ryan Briscoe, Richard Westbrook, and Dirk Müller will make up the lineup in the two cars for the 2016 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. Müller was teammate to Hand at the BMW Team RLL squad in 2011. The team will field two cars - the No. 66 and No. 67, symbolic of the two years the Ford GT40 conquered Le Mans.
Chip Ganassi revealed that he had roughly 40 drivers contact the team after the news of their involvement came out, so why did he select these four?
“What I look for in a driver first of all is heart,” said Chip Ganassi, owner of Ford Chip Ganassi Racing. “At this level, all drivers are fast. We want drivers that can work well with others. Drivers that have endurance car experience. Drivers that have been to Le Mans. All these things add up. It’s a team of drivers that act like they’ve been together for quite a while already.”
“We can’t say enough about how proud we are to present this group of drivers,” added Raj Nair, Ford Group Vice President, Global Product Development and Chief Technical Officer. “This goes straight to the heart of everything we do at Ford, and selecting the right drivers for the Ford GT racing program is just as important as building the car. We believe we have the best car, and now we have the best drivers to match.”
Hand and Briscoe are returning Ganassi drivers. Hand ran the Ford Riley DP in 2015 alongside Scott Pruett this past season after a three-year stint in DTM as a BMW factory driver. Briscoe has run several IndyCar races under the CGR banner with 12 victories in IMSA and eight in IndyCar. He spent the 2015 season running a partial IndyCar schedule, standing in for an injured James Hinchcliffe at Schmidt Peterson Motorsports.
Westbrook has served as a Chevrolet factory driver for the last five years, winning the FIA GT2 title in 2011. He's raced Daytona Prototypes since 2012, so this will mark his return to GT racing. Müller is the most experienced drivers in this quartet with over 100 starts in IMSA-sanctioned races over the last 17 years.
All four were also on hand for the two-day test at Daytona International Speedway this past week.