Ford GT Takes 1st Place in Class at 24 Hours of Le Mans
Second Place: Ferrari
Fifty years ago, just a few years after Ford was snubbed by Ferrari in a purchase deal that didn't go through, Ford's GT40 took the podium: 1-2-3, and then did so for the next 3 years. Today, Ford made history when they took the checkered flag, and the top spot on the podium for the GTE Pro Class, at The 24 Hours of Le Mans. Oh, and the bottom spot on the podium, and the one just after it too. While not the 1-2-3 sweep from the 1966 Le Mans, getting two brand-new cars on the podium (with a third not far behind) is quite the accomplishment.
The No. 68 Ford GT (which took the pole position in qualifying) was driven to victory by Dirk Müller, Sébastien Bourdais, and Joey Hand. Second place went to Ferrari's Risi Competizione No. 82 Ferrari 488 GTE, driven by Giancarlo Fisichella, Toni Vilander, and Matteo Malucelli. Third place went to the No. 69 Ford GT, which was driven by Ryan Briscoe, Richard Westbrook, and Scott Dixon. The No. 66 Ford GT, driven by Olivier Pla, Stefan Mücke, and Billy Johnson took 4th place.
Since Ford revealed the new Ford GT, and announced that they were taking it racing again, we've wondered, "Could they do it? Could they pull off a win, beating Ferrari again, on the 50th anniversary of the first time they did it?" Despite some teething problems earlier in the season, Chip Ganassi Racing was able to do it.
A pre-race parade lap was led by a production 2017 Ford GT, followed by the three Ford GT40's that swept the podium in the historic 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans. The non-racing Ford GT will sport a second-generation twin-turbo 3.5-liter EcoBoost V-6 that makes more than 600 hp, which uses a seven-speed dual-clutch transaxle to send power to the rear wheels. Though there have been some mixed emotions (here at Automobile HQ, and the Internet at large) about Ford's choice to move towards turbocharged engines, a victory at a grueling 24 hour endurance race will likely sway a few naysayers.