The team is preparing for a two-car assault on the GT Le Mans (GTLM) class beginning with the Rolex 24 At Daytona on January 30-31 – 50 years after the American manufacturer took the sports car world by storm with its revolutionary Ford GT40.
CGR tested side-by-side with Multimatic Motorsports, continuing a series of work with the new car that began shortly after its introduction at the 2015 running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Multimatic will run a two-car effort with the Ford GT in the 2016 World Endurance Championship. It was the first time two Ford GT race cars were on track together.
"It's been a terrific partnership between Ford, Multimatic and Chip Ganassi Racing," said Ganassi Team Managing Director Mike Hull. "Our guys have been an integral part of working with the R&D car all the way through to this, being the first production race car. We've been with them not only at the race tracks but at the factory in Toronto, through the build process. It's been pretty complete."
The best news for Hull and the team was the test went without any major surprises.
"It was as we expected," Hull said. "We already had quite a database from Multimatic, so that helped us with the basic setup. You're overly cautious the first day you test a new racecar, you try to cover all the bases before you go out the first time. Then as you run – besides remembering to exhale – you work hard to make sure all the systems are functioning correctly so you don't stub your toe and can't run the second day. That's what we did on Tuesday, and now we're making a lot of gains with the car. We're slowly building a library of information of all the right – and wrong – decisions that we make. Then each time we come back we'll be a little bit better."
Hull said the team hopes to have at least one more test before returning to Daytona for the two-day open IMSA WeatherTech Championship test on Nov. 17-18.
The team took delivery of the new car last week, with Tuesday the first time the car has been on track.
"It feels great to get my first miles in Chip Ganassi Racing's brand-new car," said Scott Pruett, five-time overall winner of the Rolex 24 At Daytona. "We've been working on little things getting it up and going – slowly sneaking up on it to find what it likes – and doesn't like. It's great to be back at Daytona – and great to be here in a Ford GT."
This week's test continues the strong 50-year legacy of the Ford GT at Daytona.
The Ford GT40 won its first race at Daytona in 2015, with Ken Miles and Lloyd Ruby winning the 2,000-kilometer Daytona Continental. The following year, Miles and Ruby returned in a Ford GT Mk II and won the first 24-hour race at Daytona – foreshadowing Ford's historic first victory in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
10/06/15 The new Ford GT is undergoing its first test at Daytona International Speedway this week, with Chip Ganassi Racing putting the Multimatic-built car through its paces over the course of today and Wednesday (post from Twitter here).
Scott Pruett and Joey Hand, the team’s two full-season drivers in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship this season aboard its No. 01 Riley-Ford, are testing this week.
Ford and Multimatic are yet to announce any official drivers for the Ganassi Ford GT program.
Scott Maxwell and Billy Johnson have primarily been behind the wheel of the Ford GT since its rollout earlier this summer.
Ford released its most recent behind-the-scenes video of the car’s development last week.