Ford to Confirm Bourdais Sub for 24H Le Mans “In the Days Ahead”

Photo: Wes Duenkel/Ford

Photo: Wes Duenkel/Ford

Ford Performance Global Director Dave Pericak says they will determine their revised lineup for next month’s 24 Hours of Le Mans “in the days ahead” following Sebastien Bourdais’ serious accident at Indianapolis, which has ruled out the Frenchman for the race and likely the remainder of the season.

Bourdais sustained multiple fractures to his pelvis and a fracture to his right hip following a heavy impact with the SAFER Barrier in qualifying for the Indianapolis 500, and has already undergone surgery Saturday night. 

While the 38-year-old open-wheel and sports car ace is expected to make a full recovery, Bourdais will not be able to defend his GTE-Pro class win in this year’s race.

“Sebastien has been such an important part of our Ford GT program, helping us win at both Le Mans and Daytona,” Pericak said.

“But, like any family member, our first concern is his health and we are relieved that he looks like he will be okay long-term after what was a terrible crash at Indianapolis. We wish him all the best in the days ahead as he starts his recovery.

“We will regroup with our Ganassi team to determine our lineup for Le Mans in the days ahead.”

No exact timeline has been established in confirming Bourdais’ replacement in the No. 68 Ford GT alongside Dirk Mueller and Joey Hand, although it will likely have to be made within the next week, given the timing to the June 4 Test Day.

Both Tony Kanaan and Marino Franchitti are only two drivers with previous Ford GT race experience who are not currently part of the team’s four-car lineup for Le Mans.

Franchitti, who was dropped mid-season last year due to poor performance, told Sportscar365 earlier this year that he’s no longer employed by Ford, while Kanaan, who took part in this year’s Rolex 24 at Daytona in the No. 69 Ford, has no prior Le Mans experience. 

While the Platinum-rated Brazilian would be exempt from taking part in the Le Mans Test Day, which falls on the same weekend as the IndyCar race at Belle Isle, it’s unclear if Ganassi would be willing to promote Kanaan to a race seat with limited track time.

Scott Maxwell, who along with Billy Johnson completed the majority of the Multimatic-built car’s development, could also be another option, with Maxwell being a former class winner at Le Mans.

37 Comments

  1. Lewis

    May 21, 2017 at 9:39 pm

    Fernando Alonso?

    • Lewis

      May 21, 2017 at 9:40 pm

      I mean as a sub for Bourdais.

    • Steve

      May 22, 2017 at 7:07 am

      Alonso would be interesting for sure – his F1 ride this year is a mess and he is on record saying he wants a Le Mans shot. Would certainly amp up the PR for Ford…

      • Rus'L

        May 23, 2017 at 12:06 pm

        Honda probably won’t let him run for Ford, though.

  2. Sergio M

    May 22, 2017 at 3:33 am

    Alex Wurz.

  3. JamieR

    May 22, 2017 at 6:19 am

    Di Grassi? Or one of the Formula E roster with LM experience

    • Fabio

      May 22, 2017 at 9:49 am

      Di Grassi’s on the AF Corse #51 car.

  4. Kurt

    May 22, 2017 at 7:59 am

    Likely Marino as he has experience with the car/team/everything. BUT, please consider Dane Cameron! Would love to see him get a ride at Le Mans with a full factory effort, why he hasn’t already is staggering.

    • Fabio

      May 22, 2017 at 9:51 am

      Not likely as he’s on a Cadillac in IMSA. I do believe it’s gonna be Kanaan.

    • Mike S.

      May 22, 2017 at 9:28 pm

      I feel you. Dane is the man. He messed up at Long Beach but he is just as good if not better than the Taylor’s and I like them too. I would stand by that. He made them look bad several times last year in spectacular fashion. But yeah not a Ford guy and no Le Man’s experience. Alonso again no Le Mans experience. TK would be awesome just because he would be so grateful and enjoy it with real passion even without the experience.

      • JamieR

        May 30, 2017 at 7:33 am

        Cameron is quick, agreed up there with the Taylors and a similar age. But i can’t see Ford going for someone as inexperienced at LM, let alone from the GM stable.

        I doubt it would be Marino, he doesn’t work for Ford anymore.

  5. Mike D

    May 22, 2017 at 8:32 am

    I think it could be a current GTLM BMW driver.
    Why?
    1) Gets that driver Le Mans experience before BMW’s factory effort in 2018.
    2) Joey Hand & Dirk Müller are former BMW drivers, so there would be some familiarity in co-drivers.
    3) Any GTLM/GTE current experience would be useful.

    That’s a reach, I know. But Audi did put Capello & Pirro (Biela also scheduled but was ill and replaced by Capello) in a McLaren-BMW in 1998 to get experience, so it’s not too far a stretch.

    • Charles Hall

      May 22, 2017 at 10:12 am

      Yeah but BMW and Audi were under the same ownership umbrella corporately.

      • Racer2003

        May 22, 2017 at 10:41 am

        Bullshit!
        Audi = VW
        BMW = BMW

      • John

        May 23, 2017 at 2:19 am

        BMW was almost bought out by Daimler when it was a struggling company in 1959.

        Since then, the company has been under the control of its largest shareholders, the Quandt family, among the (if not the) richest in Germany.

        BMW has traded personnel with VAG, and swiped the Rolls-Royce automobile license from under their feet, but have never been part of the same company.

  6. DrunkAtLeMans

    May 22, 2017 at 9:19 am

    Dale Jr in a Ford at Le Mans

    • John

      May 23, 2017 at 2:03 am

      I think Jr. swore off sports cars after his experience at Sears Point with the Vette.

    • Rus'L

      May 23, 2017 at 12:11 pm

      Ford wants to win…

      • Andy Flinn

        May 28, 2017 at 10:36 am

        Ford HAS won.

  7. jason

    May 22, 2017 at 9:27 am

    Logic tells me Tony Kanaan

  8. Nicolas

    May 22, 2017 at 9:58 am

    What about Charlie Kimball?? Haha

  9. Ray

    May 22, 2017 at 10:49 am

    Whoever Ford gets better know how to sandbag…

  10. sunset bend

    May 22, 2017 at 12:43 pm

    Stephan Wilson

  11. KW

    May 22, 2017 at 1:07 pm

    Gianmaria Bruni, if Porsche and Ferrari both agree…
    No, just joking: Marino Franchitti is the logical choice, although having been outplaced last year: the only one who can be on a reasonable pace quickly without too much accomodation problems.

    • Crossmai'n

      May 22, 2017 at 3:43 pm

      But he says he isn’t employed by Ford anymore due to poor performance. I don’t see him s being with Ford anytime soon. Of anything, it’d be one of Gannasi’s Indycar guys, like Kannan, Chilton or Kimball. Out of which, it’d be Kanaan.

      • Leigh Dineen

        May 22, 2017 at 6:18 pm

        Max Chilton said he’d only want to do Le Mans in LMP1. My guess would most likely be Kanaan.

  12. mike

    May 22, 2017 at 2:37 pm

    tony stewart

  13. Grant

    May 22, 2017 at 2:55 pm

    Would be great to see Scott Maxwell get the drive he was surpost to get after doing all the development testing.

  14. juneracer

    May 22, 2017 at 3:18 pm

    Maxwell is likely too old to be considered. he’s also currently rated as a silver, not that that in itself is an issue…my guess is Marino would be quicker then Maxwell. but when you remove a driver from your lineup it seems odd you’d bring him back. it will be interesting to see who Ford picks…

    • Jeff Wagner

      May 22, 2017 at 8:57 pm

      *JUNERACER*: Don’t underestimate Scott Maxwell. He was the development driver for the Porsche LMP1 Le Mans program too for a reason!

  15. sunset bend

    May 22, 2017 at 3:28 pm

    I saw that James Davison has been drafted in to replace Seabass at Indy 500. The sportscar driver of Always Evolving fame?

  16. Jay

    May 22, 2017 at 9:01 pm

    Juan Pablo Montoya looked very friendly with chip at Indy yesterday.

  17. Mike S.

    May 22, 2017 at 9:31 pm

    Cool if JPM gets in there I can hate the Fords now. Davison was up to 217 in 10 minutes and then at practice 223 not bad for hey here’s the keys here ya go head out there.

  18. Jon Bennett

    May 22, 2017 at 9:42 pm

    Colin Braun. He has history with Ford. Understand endurance racing. Has a class win at Daytona 24. Has stood on the LeMans podium and is as reliable as a Rolex.

    • Mike D

      May 23, 2017 at 8:19 am

      I hadn’t considered Braun, forgot about his Ford ties.
      However, Braun would need to make the trip from Detroit to Le Mans and put in his testing laps because he’s Gold-rated and wouldn’t be exempt. Would be a significant logistical issue, but not impossible.

  19. CCCC

    May 23, 2017 at 8:57 am

    My guess will be Kanaan or Johanes Van Overbeek or Scott Pruett 😛

  20. Kepler

    May 23, 2017 at 8:55 pm

    I’d be very surprised if Marino was drafted in.

    To be clear, he was let go from the FGT squad because he’s too slow. He’s a nice gent but as anyone who has raced with him recently will confirm, he no longer has the pace.

    Kanaan has the inside track if scheduling and his desire are there.

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