Last weekend’s Six Hours of Bahrain marked the 20th and final race of the season for the Ford GT, in its maiden year of competition, in what Larry Holt has described as a “hugely successful year for the teams on both sides of the Atlantic.”
Holt, the Vice President of Multimatic and mastermind behind the construction of the mid-engined GT car, helped lead the multi-national operation that saw Ford Chip Ganassi Racing claim six class victories, including its historic win at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
Multimatic also played a key role with the project behind the scenes, including managing operations of the UK-based WEC team, under the leadership of George Howard-Chappell, which delivered a pair of dominant end-of-season 1-2 GTE-Pro class finishes at Fuji and Shanghai.
“The development of the team, the cars and the people has met all of my expectations,” Holt said.
“On the WEC side it was only just over one year ago that we got ourselves a building and bought our first toolbox and now we are a race-winning team.
“You have to do these things one step at a time and the first job is to make the car reliable. At the beginning of the year we were struggling a bit with reliability and also the pit stops and we are now strong in both of those areas.
“We expect the cars to run for six hours trouble-free and they do. That’s a testament to the mechanics, the engineers and the management of this team.
“Over on the U.S. side you load the cars on the trailer at the end of the race and go back and work on the cars at your home shop and you get to go home every night.
“These guys have to pack everything into sea containers and you see it two or three weeks later and you have a couple of days to work on your cars before the next race.
“It’s a huge pressure, they’re all traveling all over the world and I have to say I am blown away by the talent, dedication and commitment that they have shown, all led by George.”
As was also the case with its Indianapolis-based IMSA program, the No. 67 team earned a runner-up finish in the GTE-Pro Teams’ Championship, despite a challenging start to the season.
Holt admitted the end-of-year Balance of Performance adjustment, a 2okg minimum weight increase and 4 percent reduction in power, hurt their changes significantly in last weekend’s season-ending Six Hours of Bahrain.
It was the first performance-related change to the Ford GT since Le Mans.
“The feeling is tempered by [the Bahrain] result as we struggled for no reason other than the Balance of Performance,” Holt said.
“I don’t want to use it as an excuse but we had a couple of great races, got hit hard and just couldn’t compete today.
“It’s disappointing that it swung the pendulum so far the other way but other than that disappointment today I’m hugely satisfied, happy and proud of this team.”
A near-identical program is planned again for next year in both IMSA and WEC, on the heels of an extension of Ford’s factory GTE/GTLM involvement through the end of 2019.