A decision on whether Ford will enter the DPi ranks in the next-generation ruleset is expected to be made by early next year, according to Ford Performance motorsports global director Mark Rushbrook.
The American manufacturer, which bows out of factory competition with the Ford GT at this weekend’s Motul Petit Le Mans, has continued to play an active role in IMSA’s steering group committee meetings to help shape the new-for-2022 regulations.
Ford is one of at least nine manufacturers currently in discussions.
“IMSA is a great partner and we’re still involved in that process,” Rushbrook told Sportscar365. “It looks like everything is going in the right direction for things that interest Ford.”
Despite previously ruling out an entry into the current-generation DPi platform, Rushbrook indicated a decision on a potential DPi 2022 program would have to be made in the next few months.
“An internal decision would need to be made near to the end of the year into early next year to give us time to do all the development work that’s required,” he said.
Sportscar365 understands that one of the possible conditions to green-light the program would be the allowance of the DPi 2022 platform being eligible at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Rushbrook declined to comment when asked if that could be a deal-breaker, should a deal with the ACO not materialize that would allow IMSA’s prototypes to race alongside the soon-to-be-launched Hypercar class.
“To me, what’s always been our principles, that is very important to us,” he said of DPi 2022 being able to race at Le Mans.
“If you look at what the Hypercar rules are and what DPi is, there’s the potential to create some compatibility there to be able to compete against each other.
“But it takes a focused technical effort to make that happen.”
Rushbrook said it would be too early to speculate whether Chip Ganassi Racing could continue to serve as Ford’s factory team should it move forward with the DPi 2022 program.
“Chip and his team have been fantastic partners and they are a great sports car team,” he said. “We just need to figure out bridging, with the current situation that we have, whether they will even still be available at that time.”
Customer Ford GTs Still the ‘Goal and Intent’
Despite the end of the factory Ford GT program, Rushbrook reiterated that there’s still a potential of seeing the Multimatic-built GTE machines on the grid next year, in customers’ hands.
As reported by Sportscar365 last month, Chip Ganassi Racing is still working on a potential customer-based program for next year that would likely result in a partial season effort.
“That is still our goal and our intent but nothing to announce at this point,” Rushbrook said in regards to customer Ford GTs.
“Of the cars that Ford still owns, we’re looking for those customers that will buy it but keep racing it.
“Those are the discussions we’re still working through now. They would take ownership and still race it a couple times, then it’s up to them to decide what to do. They can park it in the museum, park it in their garage or keep racing it.”
Rushbrook said there would be no hurdles for customers wanting to race in the GTLM class, with Ford planning to continue its “good partnership” with IMSA in regards to the automotive partnership and associated marketing commitments that extend to its continued involvement in Michelin Pilot Challenge with the Ford Mustang GT4.