Tony Kanaan will fill-in for Sebastien Bourdais in next month’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, Ford Chip Ganassi Racing confirmed on Wednesday, marking the Brazilian’s race debut.
The 2013 Indianapolis 500 winner will join Joey Hand and Dirk Mueller in the defending GTE-Pro class-winning No. 68 Ford GT, following Bourdais’ accident in qualifying at Indy that has put the Frenchman on the sidelines with multiple pelvic and hip fractures.
Kanaan, who had long targeted Le Mans, is now set to fulfill one of his dreams, although with limited experience in the car and in less-than-ideal circumstances.
“It’s an honor to be named a part of the Ford GT lineup for Ford Chip Ganassi Racing at the Le Mans 24,” Kanaan said.
“It’s obviously an unfortunate situation that brought us to this point with Sebastien’s injuries, but I’m going to do my best to take his place and try to help win this amazing race for the team again this year.
“This race has definitely been on my bucket list for a long time, so I’m thankful that Chip and our partners at Ford have given me this opportunity.”
He will be forced to miss next weekend’s official test day due to his IndyCar commitments in Detroit, and like 2016 Le Mans rookie Scott Dixon, will get an exemption from the ACO due to his Platinum driver rating.
“We’re very pleased we are able to get a driver of Tony’s experience and talent in the No. 68 Ford GT for the Le Mans 24,” said Dave Pericak, Global Director, Ford Performance.
“It’s certainly not the ideal situation and we’re heartbroken that Sebastien won’t be back to defend his race victory, since we know how much that race means to him personally.
“He is an important part of our family, and we look forward to him making a complete recovery.”
While having made sporadic sports car racing starts over the years, Kanaan only has one previous start in the Ford GT to his credit, having finished fifth in class in January’s Rolex 24 at Daytona.
He joined Harry Tincknell and Andy Priaulx at Daytona, and was the third quickest driver in the GT Le Mans class.
— Chip Ganassi Racing (@CGRTeams) May 31, 2017