Ford Claims GTLM Honors in Frantic Race

Photo: Brian Cleary/BCPix.com

Photo: Brian Cleary/BCPix.com

Dirk Mueller held off Patrick Pilet to win the GT Le Mans class in the 55th Rolex 24 at Daytona, giving Ford Chip Ganassi Racing, the Ford GT, and this driver lineup of Mueller, Joey Hand, and Sebastien Bourdais its second major 24-hour race in the last eight months after claiming the 24 Hours of Le Mans last June.

Mueller in the pole-sitting No. 66 Ford aggressively poked his nose inside of James Calado in the No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTE to take the lead with just over 30 minutes remaining.

The incident, which saw the two cars make contact, was reviewed by race control but no action was taken.

Pilet restarted sixth in the No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR after the last caution period but used a sequence of opportunistic moves to drive through a GTLM field that still had eight class competitors on the lead lap headed into the final restart with 20 minutes to go.

The Frenchman mounted a spirited challenge for the lead before falling back into the clutches of Calado in the waning laps, only just holding off the Prancing Horse by 0.091 seconds to secure the second spot on the podium in the mid-engined car’s debut race.

Ford controlled qualifying with the Nos. 66, 67, and 68 starting 1-2-3 in the twice-around-the-clock endurance race, but every manufacturer had a car on the lead lap in the final half hour of the race, and four different automakers made up the final top-four.

Antonio Garcia in the No. 3 Corvette Racing Corvette C7.R finished fourth, followed by the No. 69 Ford in fifth.

Trouble struck early for the No. 24 BMW M6 GTLM which pulled behind the wall in the opening hour after encountering gearbox woes and became the race’s first retirement just 15 laps into the race.

The defending class champion No. 4 Corvette crew saw their repeat bid sidetracked three and a half hours in when the car stopped on the backstretch.

The Pratt & Miller squad went to work repairing the power controller and left rear control arm but lost too much ground ultimately finishing 16 laps behind the race-winning Ford.

The No. 67 Ford also suffered a setback when Ryan Briscoe spun on the exit to the Bus Stop and backed into the wall just prior to halfway.

Briscoe drove the stricken car back to pits for repairs, but by the time it returned one hour later it had fallen out of contention and would settle for 10th in class.

RESULTS: Rolex 24 at Daytona

47 Comments

  1. J

    January 29, 2017 at 2:52 pm

    Top 5 covered by as many seconds at the end of 24 hours? Outstanding. Hope the rest of the season can be as exciting. Congrats to the 66 Ford on their victory. Now to wait for the outpouring of stupid comments filled with arrogance, whining, accusations of bought championships, and a crapload of tinfoil.

    • Trevor

      January 29, 2017 at 2:56 pm

      I think that about covers it. IMSA nailed BOP in this race, but someone is bound to whine and spew conspiracy theories about bought officials.

      • Alfaxa

        January 29, 2017 at 3:00 pm

        I’m sure BMW will wine. Which honestly I agree with. They were never in contention nor ever close to. Constantly running the slowest laps by a few tenths (after qualifying last as well).

        • J

          January 29, 2017 at 3:04 pm

          Legitimate gripes are one thing, but most of the noise made by the most vocal on these threads is usually fanboy spew.

          • Justin Mortensen

            January 29, 2017 at 8:24 pm

            The only problem I have is seeing the GTs walk away from the Corvettes on the straights, it looked like the GT had 100 more horsepower.

    • Steven

      January 29, 2017 at 2:59 pm

      when you have 20 FCY’s. plenty of room for mistakes to be made that are not costly.

      • JB

        January 29, 2017 at 3:50 pm

        Excessive yellows and wave-arounds will tighten up any race.

      • Trevor

        January 29, 2017 at 5:44 pm

        True. PC either ruined this race or made it more exciting, depending on how you want to look at it.

    • Tom

      January 29, 2017 at 6:43 pm

      Hey I will bite. Scott Dixon should be ashamed of his blatant aggression towards cars on the lead lap fighting for the class victory. A car 20 laps out of the lead should back out and let the others go at it. May he experience the same attitude from lapped cars wherever he races. Well done to IMSA, Ford, Porsche, Ferrari and Corvette for an excellent race. BMW strategist did not comprehend the wave around…however car was very quick in the wet conditions.

    • TheKurgan

      January 30, 2017 at 3:40 pm

      I’ll do it. Get rid of BOP and let the best car win.

  2. Binky

    January 29, 2017 at 2:58 pm

    That was a weird handful of laps by the Porsches, went from being marginally the slowest GTE (dry running) to being clearly the fastest, before returning to ‘normal’ pace in the final couple of laps. I really thought it would pull it off.

    • AF

      January 29, 2017 at 3:09 pm

      Pilet said he pushed the tires too far in pursuit of the Ford, dropping him back towards the Ferrari.

      • Binky

        January 29, 2017 at 4:17 pm

        Yeah, I figured he ran out of grip at the end, but couldn’t understand where the top speed suddenly came from. And wouldn’t everyone else be pushing like mad at that point as well?
        Anyways it’s no big deal, just something that really stood out for me.

        • Rob Lomas

          January 29, 2017 at 4:51 pm

          Pilet did look like he was getting a good slipstream on the tri-oval while chasing the Ford.

  3. Overtake24

    January 29, 2017 at 3:09 pm

    You let me down Porsche and Ferrari. For once I was rooting for you to win and take down ford. Don’t you hate that races are so close these days yet no pass is made near the end. So disappointing. I can’t really count the pass in P though since it wasn’t clean.

  4. P

    January 29, 2017 at 3:12 pm

    The last 20 minutes was what I called ‘The Clash of the Titans’.

  5. CAG

    January 29, 2017 at 3:12 pm

    Pilet done very well and at the end. Ford and Mueller was just too good and unable to catch at that point. Tough luck.
    Awesome last hour. As always, GT battles are still the best battles.

  6. Mike S.

    January 29, 2017 at 3:14 pm

    Ford won but Porsche and Ferrari have upped their game. Good to see since CGR had 4 Fords and by no means won in any dominating fashion. They haven’t improved much so it should be a good season hopefully.

  7. bob

    January 29, 2017 at 3:22 pm

    Porsche showing that much race pace with a brand new car is very encouraging. No doubt they will only get faster as they develop the car and setup. Porsche doesn’t F-around when it comes to race cars.

  8. Griffm3

    January 29, 2017 at 4:04 pm

    BMW needs to stop jerking around and go the Ford route…build an i8M version with a 4.4 litre twin turbo v8 and go sell 100 of them…pull out the hybrid system and go kick some ass. M6 is not the car to comepete in todays GT racing.

    • susafan

      January 29, 2017 at 4:31 pm

      In todays GTE racing you should say. The big bangers (Nissan, Bentley, Cadillac etc.) are doing well in GT3

      • Griffm3

        January 29, 2017 at 4:39 pm

        GTE is what I am talking about of course.

    • John

      January 29, 2017 at 4:47 pm

      …and have Joest run it. Or give Turner some $ to move up. They seem to have a better handle on the M6.

      Does anyone know why the #24 was retired after failing in the *first* hour after only 15 laps?

      I can see a car being parked if it was further into the race, but it had only just began.

      Was it actually more serious than the gearbox, or were there no spares on hand?

      • Griffm3

        January 29, 2017 at 4:51 pm

        I have heard gearbox and electronics but at this point I would not be shocked if BMW did not have the spares on hand to get the car up and running. right now, BMW is a joke in GT racing and needs to start spending real $$$ and acting like they want to win or else they will just be wasting everyones time.

        • jason

          January 29, 2017 at 7:01 pm

          Dont scare them out of running in the series either. I think they will get a new car in 2018 though.

      • TF110

        January 29, 2017 at 6:24 pm

        MTek will be the one running the new BMW GTE. Hope it’s not another sedan based coupe.

  9. Max Barber

    January 29, 2017 at 4:13 pm

    Great racing, even with the weather creating difficulty. Give it to Ford in GT, all 4 cars finished, 3 in the top ten. Great move in P, there is so little opportunity with cars evenly matched in class, but what a move entering the infield. I’ve become a fan of this racing.

  10. Griffm3

    January 29, 2017 at 4:54 pm

    Joest running the new BMW would tell me they are actually serious about winning races with a true GTE car. But that be too easy for am outfit who continually tries to cut corners using a GT3 car as a basis for a GTE car…you get what you pay for BMW!

    • FelipeAnz

      January 29, 2017 at 5:16 pm

      Well, the Ferraris 488 GTE/GT3 are pretty much the same car, same thing with the SRT Vipers in the past. Not entering on BOP questions but these cars were successful in both classes, I think the issue just comes on execution. Since they migrated from the M3 RLL has became very irrelevant.

      • jason

        January 29, 2017 at 7:00 pm

        BMW M6 and Ferrari 488 GT3 and GTLM versions have interchangable parts. You can use the same chassis and run it in either category in theory.

  11. Pedro

    January 29, 2017 at 6:28 pm

    Fellas, if you want a guilty for that frantic race, was NASCAR chairman Brian France.

  12. jason

    January 29, 2017 at 7:02 pm

    I think Corvette comes back and takes Sebring. Just a prediction. They bounce back well. They did not have the horsepower on the bankings to keep up with Ferrari or Ford. (sounds like Le Mans).

    • Avery

      January 29, 2017 at 11:52 pm

      Antonio Garcia was able to hold off 3 of the 4 fords, and in the earlier part of the race the fords were passing the corvette in turn 4.

    • Andres

      January 31, 2017 at 9:35 pm

      IN 2016 THEY GOT SLOWED AFTER SEBRING, IN LE MANS THEY WERE SCREWED OUT OF CONTENTION, THEN AFTER IT, IN IMSA THEY GOT BOOSTED UP AGAIN, AND NOW GOT SLOWED AFTER PETIT LE MANS

  13. Don Bingaman

    January 29, 2017 at 9:19 pm

    Congratulations to Ford, BUT they really should be running that car in DPI, (with the wick dialed up to 600 HP.) That is NOT a production car, (unless you count a $ 500K hand-built carbon monocoque a production car.) I still don’t see any on the street, a year after they debuted at Daytona to much fanfare.

    Maybe GM can make a deal with Dallara to build 400 Cadillac DPI’s for 2018, and then qualify the Caddy DPI for LeMans. I’d love to see what that Caddy would do with that 6.2L small block and the Mercury Racing DOHC heads at 800+ HP – it might even challenge the Porsche 919.

    • Avery

      January 29, 2017 at 11:54 pm

      Why not throw in a hybrid out put system along with it as well? Lol

    • jason

      January 30, 2017 at 10:44 am

      That is wrong. GT racing is where it is at. Not prototype.

    • TheKurgan

      January 30, 2017 at 4:03 pm

      Actually, heavy front engine corvette’s should be running in GTD. No sense in dragging down the entire field with that dinosaur.

      • Kurgan dodged a coat hanger

        January 31, 2017 at 3:56 pm

        Kinda like how your mom should have swallowed. No sense in stealing oxygen from other more useful human beings.

      • Andres

        January 31, 2017 at 9:37 pm

        WELL, CONSIDERING THE CORVETTES GOT SLOWED FOR THIS RACE, THING YOU MAYBE DONT HAVE IN MIND

  14. Terry

    January 29, 2017 at 10:01 pm

    Corvette, 911, and 458….shoulda, coulda, woulda, but didn’t. Lol

    • Avery

      January 29, 2017 at 11:54 pm

      And BMW… just couldn’t . 😂

  15. Speedy

    January 30, 2017 at 6:03 am

    Gm’s in house build Chevrolet DOHC V8 is coming and Cadillac has a DOHC TT V8 engine coming as well.

  16. woody2.0

    January 30, 2017 at 11:42 am

    If you think Ferrari ever had a chance, you need your head checked. It was Risi, the greatest team of teams, that kept them in this race. IMSA hates Ferrari and loves Ford. Simple. As. That.

    • Overtake24

      January 30, 2017 at 8:22 pm

      😩😩😩

    • asdfa

      February 1, 2017 at 8:39 pm

      You truly do have a persecution complex, don’t you?

  17. Allan Leeth

    January 30, 2017 at 9:17 pm

    History repeats itself . Ford wins from cheating. See what Mario,Force,Glidden,Foyt,Stewart,say. Race,win,lose. Stop with the eternal whining and race to win.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *