In 1966, Ford famously won the 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race with an epic 1-2-3 finish.
What’s often forgotten is that Ford went back to Le Mans with its GT race car and won three more times, from 1967-1969.
In 2016, the carmaker returned to France and the Circuit de la Sarthe after a long absence — and celebrated the 50th anniversary of the 1966 win with another victory, this time in the GTE Pro class with a new GT supercar.
The official entry list for the 2017 race was just announced, and once again the Ford Chip Ganassi team will come to France with four GTs. Crosstown Detroit rival Corvette Racing is bringing two cars, while a trio of Ferrari 488s will be run by a pair of privateer teams.
The grid will be filled out by two Porsches and two Aston Martins.
The 2017 race for the GTE Pro trophy will be a replay of the 2016 instalment, but this time with Ford coming in under a nice head of steam with several wins and a proven car. But old rival Ferrari won’t back down, and the lineup of drivers for both Ford and the Ferrari teams means that last year’s victors will find themselves wheel-t0-wheel with the guys who almost edged them out for first.
The US-based Risi Competizione team, second-place finishers in 2016, will once again see Giancarlo Fisichella and Toni Vilander behind the wheel, supported by newcomer Pierre Kaffer. Meanwhile, Ford Chip Ganassi’s Joey Hand, Dirk Müller, and Sébastien Bourdais will be gunning for a repeat win.
The odds were against Ford in 2016, with the team hitting the Circuit de la Sarthe for the first time. This year, however, with a full season and a half of racing under its belt, the teams knows it has the car, the experience, and the momentum to do again in 2017 what Ford did in 1967.
Of course, nobody is going to hand the race to Ford, and anything can happen over a 24 hour period. Ferrari has a great car in the 488 and Corvette has done plenty of winning, including Le Mans in 2015.
Last year’s race was so exciting that I wrote an entire book about it. This year’s Le Mans promises to write a fantastic new chapter.
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