Briscoe hails one of Ford’s best performances in GT swansong
Ryan Briscoe, who finished GT Le Mans class runner-up at Petit Le Mans along with fulltime teammate Richard Westbrook and endurance partner Scott Dixon, believes the Chip Ganassi Racing squad “did everything right” at Road Atlanta.
The 2019 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship finale marked the end of a four-season run for the 3.5-liter V6 twin-turbo Ecoboost-powered supercar in the series’ GT Le Mans category.
Across IMSA and the FIA World Endurance Championship, the Ford GT racked up a total of 48 podium finishes including 19 wins. Two of those were Rolex 24 at Daytona triumphs, and another was the 2016 win in the Le Mans 24 Hours.
Dixon led the middle portion of the race for Ford but the Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTE then driven by Alessandro Pier Guidi passed Westbrook. Despite the Ford getting a final shot at victory with a full course caution with less than 40mins to go, James Calado edged the Ferrari away from the #67 Ford to pass the checkered flag 7.8sec clear.
Said Briscoe: “As far as what you can do in a race, and how the guys performed across the board, I think it's one of the best outright performances we've ever had as a team. We just did everything absolutely right to the maximum, no mistakes.
“We had such a close battle at the end with the Ferrari, they just had a bit more speed and luck with the traffic. We gave it all we had. We got the [Michelin IMSA Endurance Cup – based on results in the four long-distance events on the IMSA schedule] and got close to the manufacturer championship. The way we performed today made me so proud of the guys.
“It's a bit emotional, I had a lot of thoughts going through my head the last few laps, but I'm really proud of the job that everyone's done – today and for the past four years.”
Added Westbrook: “Of course it would have been nice to close out this great program with a win, but it wasn't to be. We ran really strong all race, and because of that we picked up the stage wins and took the [Michelin IMSA Endurance Cup], so really proud to walk away with that.
“It's been such a great program and I'm really, really glad to be able to end it on a positive note.”
Five-time IndyCar champion Dixon commented: “It was a pretty good race. I think the whole Ford GT team did a hell of a job. Ultimately it was a bit frustrating as frankly, we did have a perfect race, we just came up short… A win to wrap it all up would have be nice, but everyone gave their all.”
“Although we would have liked to end it with a win, there’s no question our guys gave it all they had today,” said Mark Rushbrook, global director of Ford Performance, Motorsports. “Both cars had great pace, and we battled to the very end.
“It was the nature of this team and this Ford GT program from the start – to find a way to be competitive no matter what. I couldn’t be prouder of everyone involved, including our great partners Ganassi, Multimatic, Roush Yates and Michelin. We could not have had the success we had in this program without them.”
The other Ford of Dirk Muller, Joey Hand and enduro partner Sebastien Bourdais ran second until Muller spun into the Turn 1 gravel. Despite the trio’s best efforts, they wound up eighth in class and a lap down.
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