Chip Ganassi Racing is unlikely to continue racing Ford GTs next year according to managing director Mike Hull, who indicated they’re awaiting a decision on Ford’s potential DPi involvement before exploring other DPi opportunities.
The veteran open-wheel and sports car racing operation has enjoyed a six-year partnership with the Blue Oval, which began with EcoBoost-powered DPs prior to the four-year factory Ford GT program, which comes to an end this year.
CGR’s future with Ford, however, remains unclear as the manufacturer has yet to decide on a potential DPi program that still could come online as early as next year.
“It’s been a great partnership with Ford, first of all,” Hull told Sportscar365. “They are a terrific corporation.
“The culture and the ethic with which they manage their company has followed through with the Ford GT program, there’s no question about that.
“I know that there are some opportunities for the Ford GTs to race going forward and hopefully that will happen.
“We’re working with Ford to continue to race. That’s not a closed door at this point.”
When asked if CGR could continue to race Ford GTs without factory backing next year, Hull said it looks unlikely.
“We probably will not race the GTs next year ourselves, but we’re working with Ford on another project going forward. We’re just not ready to talk about it yet,” he said.
Ford’s potential DPi involvement, previously confirmed by Ford Performance motorsports director Mark Rushbrook, is understood to hinge on IMSA’s DPi 2.0 regulations, which will feature hybrid powertrains.
The manufacturer is known to be pushing for a higher level of electrification than IMSA’s current ‘mild hybrid’ plan, which is believed to be holding up a decision on both Ford’s short and long-term prototype prospects.
“[Ford has] been looking at that and we’re talking about that now,” Hull said. “Hopefully we can get that buttoned up soon.
“I think it would be great for us if it is something [for] next year. We’re working on next year. Hopefully it can be.”
While its first choice would be to remain with Ford, Hull admitted they’ve had discussions with other manufacturers for possible DPi programs in the event Ford does not pull through.
He said they need to have a direction by Aug. 1 at the latest in order to remain in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship paddock for next year and stressed that a DPi program is their preferred option.
“We have a great group of people who work for us in house that run that program,” Hull said. “They need to remain gainfully employed.
“We would love if they would be gainfully employed in the IMSA series.
“We’re working toward that. I don’t know at this point if that’s going to be the case or not, but we’re working in that direction and we’ll see what happens.”
The development follows confirmation that Multimatic, which ran CGR’s FIA World Endurance Championship program, has not submitted entries for the 2020-21 WEC season, casting questions whether any Ford GTs will be active on a full-time basis next year.
Hull: “Opportunities for Manufacturers” in IMSA
Hull said that that manufacturer interest continues to grow in the series, particularly with IMSA’s DPi 2.0 platform set to come online in 2022.
Sportscar365 understands that among the manufacturers to have been in recent steering group meetings include Lexus and Lamborghini, with Hyundai having had dialogue with at least one existing IMSA team.
“There’s interest for two reasons,” Hull explained.
“One is the future of IMSA and the direction they appear to be going beginning with the new car in 2022 has piqued the interest of a lot of manufacturers.
“Let’s face it: if you walk around this paddock today, the IMSA paddock, and you see the depth of manufacturer support in the series, there’s no better place to race in sports car racing in the world right now.
“With what they’re doing going forward and their long term vision for sports car racing, there’s opportunity for manufacturers there.”