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24H Le Mans

Kanaan: “After the 24 and the 500, Le Mans Would Be My Next Goal”

Kanaan keen on a chance to race at Le Mans, if selected by Ford…

Photo: IMSA

Photo: IMSA

Provided Ford Chip Ganassi Racing enters a four-car lineup, as projected, for this year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, they’ll still have three seats to fill beyond the nine already announced drivers for their two full-season programs.

IndyCar stars Tony Kanaan and Scott Dixon could be in the frame if asked, given the schedule for the June 18-19 race doesn’t clash with an IndyCar weekend. Both would be Le Mans rookies if selected by Ford and Ganassi.

The FIA World Endurance Championship quartet of Andy Priaulx, Olivier Pla, Marino Franchitti and Stefan Muecke will head to Le Mans having already done the first two rounds of the championship.

Meanwhile the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship crew of Richard Westbrook, Ryan Briscoe, Joey Hand and Dirk Mueller all have Le Mans experience, as does Sebastien Bourdais.

Bourdais has not been confirmed for further races beyond the Rolex 24 at Daytona, but is strongly linked to a seat for additional endurance races.

As for Kanaan, now 41, racing at Le Mans would tick off a yet-to-be-completed box on his racing checklist.

“As a driver, after winning the (Rolex) 24 and the (Indianapolis) 500, that would be my next goal (winning Le Mans),” Kanaan told Sportscar365.

“I’m with the right team for the right opportunity, but it’s still early days to say that.

“I still have to be extremely committed to the IndyCar program and that’ll be up to Chip, not up to me. I’m a race car driver. I’ll do whatever. You give me a car to drive and I’ll drive it.”

If he were to be selected Kanaan, like Dixon, could be in an interesting logistical situation between now and the race week itself, similar to what fellow IndyCar driver and full-time WeatherTech Championship competitor Townsend Bell did last year.

Race rookies need to go through a simulator training session in France prior to turning actual laps at Circuit de la Sarthe.

This was something Bell completed in April last year prior to a run of IndyCar race broadcasts on consecutive weekends at New Orleans, Long Beach and Birmingham.

Rookies do not, however, need to attend the Le Mans Test Day – June 5 this year – if they are Platinum-rated. An example of this was Kevin Estre, who missed the test day last year owing to a Pirelli World Challenge conflict at Detroit.

Bell, who’s Gold-rated, needed to fly out after the IMSA race in Detroit and make the Le Mans Test Day on the Sunday, which he did with longtime co-driver Bill Sweedler for Scuderia Corsa.

Dixon and Kanaan have the same conflict this year, where the second IndyCar race of the weekend at Detroit occurs on the same day as the test day. But as both are Platinum-rated, they could miss the test day.

Those drivers in Saturday’s WeatherTech Championship race who test at Le Mans can often fly out immediately after from Detroit, and arrive in France to complete some laps on the test day.

Kanaan is yet to test the Ford GT but would be keen on the opportunity if it presents itself.

“Yeah, that car looks awesome,” he said. “I’d love to have a spin. But right now, we have plenty of good drivers that are able to do the job, so I’ll stick to the DP right now.

“But if we have a chance, yes. I told Chip if he needs an extra driver for Le Mans, I’ll pay for my own flight and I’ll be there.”

Tony DiZinno (@tonydizinno) is Sportscar365's North American Editor, focusing on coverage of the IMSA-sanctioned championships as well as Pirelli World Challenge. DiZinno also contributes to and other motorsports outlets. Contact Tony

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