The No.67 Ford GT piloted by Andy Priaulx, Harry Tincknell, and Pipo Derani stood on the second spot of the 2017 Le Mans 24 Hours GTE Pro podium.
A last-minute battle for the lead between the No.63 Corvette C7.R and the No.97 Aston Martin Vanatage left the Corvette limping home and a victim to the hard charging Tinknell on the final lap.
“That was an amazing race,” Priaulx said. “It was a faultless race with faultless pit stops. These guys (the Ford Chip Ganassi Racing team) deserve a medal as yet again they have risen to the challenge. It was a gruelling race; we had to fight through every lap, every pit stop, every moment of the 24 hours. Everything had to be perfect and it was. Watching Harry at the end was nail-biting so when we saw the Corvette appear in Harry’s sights we knew he would get the job done and take second.”
In one of the most punishing Le Mans races in years all four Ford GTs finished despite excruciatingly hot ambient temperatures and a host of tire issues for both Michelin and Dunlop runners. Last year’s race-winning No.68 Ford GT came home in sixth place, followed by the No.69 car in seventh and the No.66 in tenth place.
“Wow, what a race,” said Dave Pericak, global director, Ford Performance. “It was a tough one, but everyone stuck with it. This proves that you have to stick with it right until the very end. To take second place on our second time here is amazing. First is always best but we’ll take this because it’s a great result for this team. It was huge for us in the WEC championship so it’s not just a great finish, but it’s also great for the championship we want to win this year.”
All four of the cars would take turns leading the pack in the race’s first half, but as night came so did the problems. The No.66 had a suspension issue which sent the car into the gravel, while the No.68 struggled for pace most of the day. The No.69 was never much of a factor despite qualifying best of the quartet, taillight issues hampered it for much of the day.
“Congratulations to the No. 67 crew for a fantastic second-place finish,” Dirk Müller said. “We know how it feels to make it on to the podium. It’s a good feeling. We were hit with so many things during the race. Joey did a good job and definitely Tony Kanaan. (Adding him to the lineup) was such a rush. We arrived here on Tuesday morning and from that moment on it all went so fast. He gave everything for us and we made a good team.”
The pair of IMSA Ford GTs will be back in action two weeks from now at Watkins Glen in New York.