The drivers for Chip Ganassi Racing’s Ford GT program for its first season of competition in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship were at long last formally revealed on Saturday morning at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Dirk Müller, Joey Hand, Richard Westbrook and Ryan Briscoe will spend next season forming the full-time driver lineup for Ganassi’s North American effort with the new car.
“The selection process was extremely difficult,” said Dave Pericak, Ford Performance Director, of the process of choosing who would come aboard as the driver lineup.
“There’s a lot of great talent out there.”
On the subject, Chip Ganassi added with a laugh: “When word snuck out we were involved in this program, between me and Mike Hull, we had about 40 drivers contact us.”
“One of the first things I look for in drivers is if you take the fact they have the talent, and they have the tools necessary, I go to heart,” said Ganassi. “I want to know what kind of heart they have.”
Hand and Müller will pair up in the No. 66 Ford GT with Briscoe and Westbrook teaming up to pilot the No. 67.
Müller and Hand Back Together
Dirk Müller and Joey Hand have been reunited after being BMW Team RLL teammates for several seasons, winning the American Le Mans Series GT title with the BMW M3 in 2011.
Hand will be the lone driver transferring to the Ford GT from the former Riley-Ford Daytona Prototype effort after finishing fourth in the Prototype class points with Scott Pruett last season. The pair earned one victory in 2015 after leading flag to flag at Circuit of The Americas.
Westbrook Back in the GT Ranks
Richard Westbrook will return to GT racing for 2016 in a move from the Corvette DP of Visit Florida Racing.
Michael Valiante and Westbrook finished second in the Prototype class points for the 2015 season after giving up the title in a disastrous Petit Le Mans season finale.
Back to Ganassi for the Aussie
Next season will mark Ryan Briscoe’s third full-time ride with Ganassi after spending two Verizon IndyCar Series seasons with the team in 2005 and 2014.
The Australian driver also contested the Indianapolis 500 in 2013 during his split season with IndyCar and the American Le Mans Series on his plate.
Briscoe has in common with Westbrook former Corvette GT experience, and the Australian driver will race at Le Mans in 2016 after missing out on the running last year due to Jan Magnussen’s crash in qualifying that forced Corvette Racing to withdraw the entry.
All four of the drivers that will race the new Ford GT in the renamed WeatherTech Championship in 2016 were present at last week’s two-day IMSA test at Daytona International Speedway.
The new car will also contest the 2016 FIA World Endurance Championship, with the drivers for that global program to be announced at a later date.
The car will make its race debut at the end of January in the Rolex 24 at Daytona.