Ford and Michelin to the fore at Road America

ELKHART LAKE, Wis. – Ford Chip Ganassi Racing needed a win to reignite its 2017 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship bid and they got it today at Road America with a strong performance by pole sitter Dirk Mueller and co-driver Joey Hand who took their No. 66 Ford GT to the GT Le Mans class victory.

Starting from the pole position, Mueller built a 10 second lead in the first hour while still saving fuel.

“Mike O’Gara (CGR team manager) gave me a big number to hit for fuel and I knew what the tires needed and the MICHELIN tires were brilliant all the way to the end of the stint," said Mueller.

Pole Key

Mueller set a class track record (2:01.422) in winning the pole and combined with Hand to lead most of the first two hours of the race but came out of the final pit stop trailing the No. 912 Porsche 911 RSR of Laurens Vanthoor and Gianmaria Bruni.

“Dirk drove an amazing lap in qualifying and GTLM competition is so tight it is a real advantage to start up front and try to control the race," said Hand.

Hand Delivered

After being shuffled back on the initial restart, Hand took advantage of a second opportunity a few laps later to regain the lead.

“Dirk was in the car at the end when we won at Le Mans (2016) and Daytona (2017), so it was my turn to make him stand in the pits and sweat it out," said Hand of his narrow 0.621 of a second victory.

“We’ve had a couple of bad races and really needed a win to get back into the championship."

Finishing third to joining their CGR Ford teammates on the podium were Richard Westbrook and Ryan Briscoe.

Last Lap Drama

Corvette Racing’s Tommy Milner (with Oliver Gavin) and BMW Team RLL’s Alexander Sims (with Bill Auberlen) were in a fierce battle for fourth position for the last several laps.

Sims set the fastest GTLM lap of the race a stunning 2:02.789 seconds, as he closed in on Milner on the fast, rolling four-mile, 14-turn circuit.

The two came together on the final lap, promoting Corvette Racing’s championship leader Antonio Garcia (with Jan Magnussen) from sixth place to fourth.

One Point At A Time

The victory pulls Mueller and Hand, winners of the season opening Rolex 24 At Daytona, to within just eight points of Magnussen and Garcia and takes Ford to the WeatherTech SportsCar Manufacturer Championship lead, 254-253 over Chevrolet.

BMW’s last lap drama pushed the Bill Auberlen/Alexander Sims combination back to third place in the standings – one point adrift of the No.66 Ford combo.

Magnussen and Garcia have led the points since the third round of the championship at Circuit of The Americas and over the four races to follow, have only extended their margin by a mere two points.

GTLM Fast Facts – IMSA 2014-Now:

RACE WINS
14 – Chevrolet
11 – Porsche
5 – BMW
3 – Ferrari
5 – Ford
2 – Dodge

POLE POSITIONS
10 – Porsche
9 – Ford
8 – Chevrolet
7 – BMW
3 – Dodge
3 – Ferrari

MOST CONSECUTIVE RACE WINS
4
Chevrolet (Long Beach-CTMP) 2014
Porsche (Watkins Glen-VIR) 2015

MOST CONSECUTIVE POLES
4
Porsche (CTMP-COTA) 2015

PODIUM FINISHES
30 – Porsche
27 – Chevrolet
22 – BMW
14 – Ferrari
14 – Ford
10 – Dodge

FASTEST LAP
9 – BMW
8 – Porsche
8 – Chevrolet
7 – Ford
6 – Ferrari
2 – Dodge

MOST CONSECUTIVE PODIUMS
7
Porsche (MRLS-Petit) 2015

GTLM Teams:

Michelin has again partnered with major brands for their assault on the GTLM class in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

BMW Team RLL

No.24: John Edwards (USA) / Martin Tomczyk (DEU)
No.25: Bill Auberlen (USA) / Alexander Sims (GBR)

Corvette Racing

No.3: Jan Magnussen (DEN) / Antonio Garcia (ESP)
No.4: Oliver Gavin (GBR) / Tommy Milner (USA)

Ford Performance

No.66: Dirk Mueller (DEU) / Joey Hand (USA)
No.67: Ryan Briscoe (AUS) / Richard Westbrook (GBR)

Porsche North America

No.911: Patrick Pilet (FRA) / Dirk Werner (DEU)
No.912: Gianmaria Bruni (ITA) / Laurens Vanthoor (BGR)

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