LE MANS, France – The #69 Ford GT of Ryan Briscoe (AUS), Richard Westbrook (GB) and Scott Dixon (NZ) took fifth place in qualifying for the Le Mans 24 Hours, followed by the #66 Ford GT in eighth place, the #67 in ninth and last year’s winning #68 in twelfth position. All four Ford GTs will now be meticulously prepared for the start of the 2017 Le Mans 24 Hours, which gets underway on Saturday at 15:00 CET.
“It was overall a disappointing day today,” said Dave Pericak, global director, Ford Performance. “The guys gave it their best shot. We were sitting in first place for a little bit, but at the end of the day we didn’t have the speed so we’re going to see if there’s anything else we can do with our setup and get ready to race on Saturday.”
“We definitely had a go at qualifying tonight,” Briscoe said. “It was the first time we ran with new tyres and low fuel and we’ve always found this car comes alive when we drop the fuel out of it, so it felt great. The balance was nice. We got one of those good laps at Le Mans where you get a tow and don’t get held up with any traffic and piece it together. I was really pleased, but obviously there’s a lot of competition. It was quick at the time but we’re fifth now so I think it’s going to be a tough race and hopefully we’ll have the pace to stay at the front during the race.”
The second fastest Ford GT was the #66 of Stefan Mücke (GER), Olivier Pla (FRA) and Billy Johnson (US).
“We made good progress since yesterday,” Mücke said. “We have a nice balance in the car now, which is very important here at Le Mans. We ran through various programmes during the night and did a qualifying run at the end but unfortunately I only had one clear lap then I caught traffic. We’re happy we have found a good balance and we now understand the tyres a lot better so we are feeling confident for the race. It promises to be an interesting race with more high temperatures during the day and cold conditions at night so we will see a big variation in track conditions throughout the 24 hours.”
Before the modern GT cars took to the track at Le Mans the 1967 race-winning Ford GT40 of Dan Gurney (US) and AJ Foyt (US) returned to relive a moment of glory from 50 years ago. The car, untouched since winning the great race in 1967, looked right at home on the famous Le Mans start-finish straight.
Tomorrow, AJ Foyt will return to Le Mans to watch the Ford Chip Ganassi Racing team take on some of the world’s toughest GT competition as it fights to defend its 2016 victory.