Ford Chip Gnassi Racing continues podium streak at Lime Rock

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ford20160802The Ford GT has now made the podium at every race it’s attempted – globally – since Laguna Seca in May.

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Co-drivers Richard Westbrook and Ryan Briscoe were a threat to win the Northeast Grand Prix at Lime Rock Park late in the race, but drove the No. 67 to a third-place finish to extend Ford Chip Ganassi Racing’s global podium streak to six. Its sister car, the No. 66, finished a hard-fought fifth in GTLM (GT Le Mans) thanks to drivers Joey Hand and Dirk Müller.

Westbrook and Briscoe’s win at Laguna Seca, the first win for the new Ford GT, kicked off a streak of three victories in a row for the No. 67 IMSA (International Motor Sports Association) team, who also won at Watkins Glen and Canadian Tire Motorsport Park before finishing third at Lime Rock. In the meantime, the No. 66 IMSA car won the GTE Pro category at the Le Mans 24 Hours right after the No. 67 FIA WEC Ford GT finished second at Spa. The WEC or World Endurance Championship team continues its season Sunday at the 6 Hours of Nürburgring (Germany).

“The run continues,” Westbrook said. “It wasn’t a win, but we should be really proud of ourselves with this podium. It was the first time here for the team in this car, and we weren’t able to test here, so it’s another part of the learning process. To come away still in the hunt for the championship, I’ll take that.”

Westbrook proved a quick study, qualifying first for the race on Friday. It was his second pole and the third pole overall for Ford GT (Le Mans, Watkins Glen, Lime Rock).

“It was a really hard-fought race,” Briscoe said. “We had a little first-lap incident that put us at the back of the field, so it was a great fight to get back up to the front.”

The No. 66, which finished where it started at first, struggled from the start because of contact with another car.

“The car already had a little bit of understeer in it, and that made it worse,” Hand said. “It was just a tough race. This kind of place, to pass cars, you need torque and we just didn’t have the torque to get off the corners. We did our best. We raced hard, but ultimately we just didn’t have the car to go fight at the end for Dirk [who closed out the race].”

The IMSA team continues its season at Road America August 5-7.

“Sometimes at a place like this, a fifth-place finish is good because the car is not in good shape at the end anymore,” Müller said. “Congratulations to the No. 67 team and thank you to our team who worked so hard at the pit stops. We brought the No. 66 home unhurt and still earned points in the championship and we’re happy with that. We look forward to Road America.”

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