Ford Chip Ganassi Racing finishes 1-2 in GTLM race at Road America
Ryan Briscoe and Richard Westbook brought the Ford GT home in P1 at Road America.
There’s something about Road America that agrees with Ford Chip Ganassi Racing.
On Sunday, a Ganassi entry captured the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GT Le Mans (GTLM) win in the IMSA Road Race Showcase for the third straight year. Even better, the team’s two cars posted a 1-2 finish.
Ryan Briscoe and Richard Westbrook drove the No. 67 Ford GT to victory to repeat their win from 2018. Dirk Mueller and Joey Hand, who won the GTLM event on the Wisconsin circuit in 2017, finished second Sunday in the No. 66 Ford GT.
“I think we’ve always run strong here and I think we were unlucky not to win the first year (2016), too,” said Briscoe, who earned his 19th career IMSA win. “It’s just a track that really suits the Ford GT. The long, fast corners and obviously now, it was more about the consistency than outright speed.
Starting second in GTLM, Briscoe took the lead on the opening stint, passing class pole sitter Oliver Gavin in the No. 4 Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C7.R on Lap 19, about 40 minutes into the two-hour, 40-minute race. Briscoe turned over the car on a pit stop six laps later to Westbrook, who double-stinted the run to the checkered flag.
Westbrook took the lead for good when Antonio Garcia made the last of three pit stops for the No. 3 Corvette C7.R on Lap 60. It ended up being an extended stop to replace batteries in the Corvette, dropping the No. 3 to a fourth-place finish. From there, Westbrook was never threatened and crossed the finish line 10.657 seconds ahead of teammate Hand.
“The key was being good on the tires,” said Westbrook, who collected IMSA win No. 16. “Really, those last 10 laps on the stint were the important 10 laps, not the first 10 laps. If you fell of the cliff (in tire performance) like the Corvettes definitely did 20 laps into the stint, then you were toast.”
In addition to repeating at Road America, Briscoe and Westbrook claimed their second straight win this season, following a victory two weeks ago at Lime Rock Park. Westbrook noted the difference in race strategy from one win to the next.
“Polar opposite of Lime Rock, when we won on a three-stopper,” Westbrook said. “Today, we made the two-stopper work. Just feels awesome. Ryan did a killer job today, put me in a really strong position.
“The 3 car definitely came into play at one point; we were a bit nervous about them. There was lots of chat on the radio about the 3 car. I’m going, ‘OK, here we go,’ but unfortunately they had a bad stop at the end, and in the end it was quite comfortable.”
Hand passed Tommy Milner in the No. 4 Corvette to move the No. 66 into second place with seven minutes left in the race. Milner stopped for a splash of fuel shortly after, allowing the No. 912 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR with drivers Earl Bamber and Laurens Vanthoor to claim the final spot on the GTLM podium.
With three races remaining in the WeatherTech Championship season, Bamber and Vanthoor lead the GTLM standings with 248 points. Teammates Patrick Pilet and Nick Tandy, who finished seventh Sunday in the No. 911 Porsche, are second with 234 points. Briscoe and Westbrook are third with 230 points, one ahead of No. 3 Corvette drivers Garcia and Jan Magnussen.
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