Billy Johnson will have additional outings with Ford Chip Ganassi Racing beyond the 24 Hours of Le Mans, with the American driver set to also take part in the opening two rounds of the FIA World Endurance Championship in preparation for the French endurance classic.
Sportscar365 has learned that Billy Johnson will join Stefan Muecke and Olivier Pla in the No. 66 Ford GT for both the Six Hours of Silverstone and Six Hours of Spa-Francorchamps, as well as next week’s Prologue test at Paul Ricard.
Johnson was instrumental in the preseason development of the new Ford GT, and is contesting the full season for the marque in the Multimatic-run Ford Shelby GT350R-C program in the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge.
Johnson said that the expanded role with the team can only help in Ford’s return to Le Mans.
“It’s really beneficial to do those first two races leading up to Le Mans to just get into the groove of things,” he told Sportscar365.
“That’s been the winning combination: get all the drivers and the teams familiar with each other and all on the same page. Everything needs to be second nature because at Le Mans, you can’t afford to make a single mistake.
“Getting everyone on the same groove is the key for that race. It’s great to be able to do more races in the car for that and also great to be paired up with amazing co-drivers like Stefan Muecke and Olivier Pla.”
The WEC season-opener at Silverstone will mark Johnson’s first racing experience in Europe, but he said his career will be coming full-circle.
“I haven’t done any racing in Europe, but I won a scholarship in Valencia, Spain to become a factory BMW junior driver, which helped kick off my racing career,” he said.
“It’s great to be going back to Europe where, in a way, it’s where my car racing career started.
Former Le Mans LMP2 class winner Harry Tincknell, who was also announced as an additional driver for Le Mans, was previously confirmed in the No. 67 Ford alongside full-season drivers Andy Priaulx and Marino Franchitti for the first two WEC rounds as well.
Johnson and co-driver Scott Maxwell are competing in the Continental Tire Challenge round at Sebring this weekend.