Chip Ganassi Racing has not given up on the potential of fielding Ford GTs in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship next year, with the prospects of a privateer program being explored.
The Indianapolis-based squad, which sees its factory program with the Blue Oval come to an end following next month’s Motul Petit Le Mans, has been exploring multiple options in the paddock according to managing director Mike Hull.
While having spoken to other GT Le Mans manufacturers, Hull admitted the most likely chance to remain in the class next year is with its existing Fords, but under the backing of private investors who would purchase the cars.
It’a understood the proposed program would feature all-pro driver lineups.
“There is a chance for that and we’re working on that,” Hull told Sportscar365. “Ford is working on that too.
“There are a couple of groups of people that have expressed interest there. Nothing’s really happened at this point to make that a reality.”
When asked the likelihood of it materializing on a scale of 1-10, Hull said it’s currently 4 or 5, with time not on their side.
“There’s a lot of lead items involved with that and sooner or later crunch time is going to either make that happen or not,” he said. “The curtain for that is closing.”
Hull explained their primary objective is to keep its crew “gainfully employed”, with options outside of IMSA, including fielding an additional IndyCar, being explored for 2020.
“There are some things we’re working on that have nothing to do with the IMSA paddock, frankly, that would keep them on the payroll,” he said.
“Our number 1 obligation is to keep people on the payroll. If people in this paddock aren’t interested in that for us, we can’t do anything about that.
“That for us is really, really important because we invest in people. We don’t want to re-invest with people.”
Hull: DPi 2022 Prospects, Manufacturer Interest a “Big Positive”
Hull said that the level of current manufacturer involvement and potential future programs in IMSA’s next-generation DPi formula, due to debut in 2022, is one of the most positive things going for the sanctioning body.
It’s understood there are currently ten manufacturers in the DPi 2022 steering group meetings to define the regulations, including Ford.
“I think the great thing about IMSA is that they have a lot of manufacturer interest. So that’s a big positive,” Hull said.
“IMSA has the world by the tail when it comes to manufacturers. The question comes if we’re holding on the right part of that!”
Hull said they would “absolutely” be in line to pick up Ford’s DPi 2022 program, should the manufacturer commit to the platform.
“We’re really satisfied with the relationship we have with Ford,” he said. “I think that’s been a great partnership for six years. We’re really satisfied with the relationship.”
“Some Positivity” for 2021 DPi Program
When asked if Ganassi has explored options with other DPi manufacturers, Hull confirmed they’ve been in talks with several, with “some positivity” for a program in 2021 as a bridge year into 2022.
“It could be a reality,” Hull said.
While declining to confirm the manufacturer, Sportscar365 understands that Team Penske’s contract with Acura is up at the end of next year, with multiple teams having placed inquiries with the manufacturer in recent months.
Hull also confirmed they’ve had discussions with Mazda, which is set to offer customer DPis next year.
“It’s not fair to say we haven’t spoken to Mazda but we haven’t spoken to them in a really serious manor,” he said.