The Driver’s Perspective The fourth installment of the Ford GT series looks at the race drivers By Steve Turner Photos courtesy of Ford Motor Company With the Ford GT’s historic return to the 24 Hours of Le Mans on the 50th anniversary of the car’s historic finish looming, Ford Performance is sharing a five-part documentary series, titled The Return, about the car’s development and the fourth installment, titled The Driver’s Perspective, hit the web today. “From the outset, we developed the all-new Ford GT to return Ford to the world of GT endurance racing,” said Raj Nair, executive vice president, Global Product Development and chief technical officer. “We’re pleased with the progress we’ve made so far, including winning at Laguna Seca and taking second place at Spa. We are looking forward to further pushing the capabilities of this next-generation GT at Le Mans.” To document that progress leading up to Le Mans, the series has, thus far, provided a detailed look at the development of the hardware. In the first Chapter, titled The Decision, Ford luminaries like Bill Ford and Raj, gave us the background on the choice to revive the legendary GT. The next chapter, titled The Cutting Edge, Dave Pericak and the team discuss the challenges of simultaneously building a street car and a race car capable of competing with the best in the world. The third episode, titled Let’s Race, detailed the supercar’s racing debut at Daytona. The fourth episode covers a part of the racing program that is just as important as the hardware—the drivers. It is key to not only find talented drivers, but to develop team chemistry, and Ford Chip Ganassi Racing team owner, Chip Ganassi, discusses that here… [video=youtube;uMFaxZFoMSA]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uMFaxZFoMSA[/video] “In motorsport, it’s so much about the man and the machine and having to optimize both to be successful,” Raj said. “We received a lot of interest from race car drivers wanting to drive the all-new Ford GT and, from that, we’ve assembled a talented and experienced team.” That team is as follows: 66: Billy Johnson (US), Stefan Mücke (GER), Olivier Pla (FRA) 67: Marino Franchitti (GB), Andy Priaulx (GB), Harry Tincknell (GB) 68: Sébastien Bourdais (FRA), Joey Hand (US), Dirk Müller (GER) 69: Ryan Briscoe (AUS), Scott Dixon (NZ), Richard Westbrook (GB) “I feel extremely lucky to be part of the program,” driver Ryan Briscoe said. “I feel privileged to have been chosen to be one of the few drivers to develop this car and go race it. I’m definitely a lucky man.” With less than a year testing the new GT, the big moment is just days away. The 24 Hours of Le Mans activities will begin on June 15 and the race starts on June 18. Here’s a look at the frenetic year leading up to the race… [video=youtube;TrrrRIzFECY]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TrrrRIzFECY[/video] “Fifty years ago, one of the most legendary moments in motorsports history took place as the duel between Ford and Ferrari took place on the track at Le Mans 1966,” Bill Ford, executive chairman, Ford Motor Company, said. “Once again, all eyes will be focused on this legendary race as Ford returns to take on the best in endurance racing.” There will be a fifth and final installment of The Return documentary series in the near future, so stay tuned. The WEC Ford GT drivers are Andy Priaulx, Marino Franchitti, Harry Tincknell, Billy Johnson, Olivier Pla and Stefan Mücke. “Lots of drivers out there are fast. In endurance racing, where you share the car, you need to compromise,” Ford Chip Ganassi Racing team owner Chip Ganassi said. There’s always a little give-and-take with the other drivers. That’s ultimately what made the decision for us.” Representing the IMSA teams are Sébastien Bourdais, Joey Hand, Dirk Müller, Ryan Briscoe Scott Dixon and Richard Westbrook.