Ford Performance Global Director Dave Pericak admitted he’s “concerned” about the current GTE-Pro Balance of Performance for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, after all four Ford GTs did not set representative times in Sunday’s Le Mans Test Day.
The Multimatic-built cars, which were handed a 20kg minimum weight increase as well as a reduction in turbo boost since last year’s race, struggled in the single-day test, with its quickest lap, a 3:57.536 in the hands of Richard Westbrook, more than six seconds slower than Dirk Mueller’s pole time from twelve months ago.
It came despite claims from competitors that Ford was not showing its full potential last weekend, an allegation the manufacturer has denied.
“It seems that every time we talk Le Mans, the story is always around BoP and how that’s all going to shake out and where we’re going to be,” Pericak told Sportscar365.
“Overall I’m concerned about the BoP, looking at last year’s race, and how it played out and how competitive it was.”
With the Fords ending the test day at the bottom of the time charts, Pericak said he is worried about a potential performance advantage for the Ferrari 488 GTEs, which have not been given any BoP changes since last year’s race.
The Italian manufacturer’s three entries were seventh, eighth and ninth quickest, respectively in the test, although some two seconds quicker than the EcoBoost-powered Fords.
It’s understood the Ferrari is again serving as the performance baseline in the class, and the reason why no BoP changes were made to the Prancing Horse prior to the test day.
“When you look at the Ferrari being the baseline, I think a lot of people are forgetting that the factory Ferraris fell out [of the race last year],” Pericak said.
“But if you look at where they were early in the race, they were pretty quick. We’ve been pulled back a bit.
“If you look at all of that, it’s a bit puzzling to me at the moment as to where the BoP has been set.
“No-one likes the job of BoP, but I am concerned about it for sure.”
The FIA and ACO reserves the right to make further BoP changes following the test day, as well as race week itself, in the wake of last year’s unprecedented post-qualifying adjustment after Ford’s dominant pole run.
Despite the changes, the Blue Oval claimed class victory in its return to the race, placing first and third in class and sandwiching the No. 82 Risi Competizione Ferrari, which had been in the mix all race.
Corvette Racing and Porsche GT Team led the way in Sunday’s Test Day, in a near mirror-image to last year, which saw both manufacturers struggle in the race itself.
The Corvette C7.R has been given a 0.7 mm increase in air restrictor for 2017, with the German manufacturer debuting its new mid-engined Porsche 911 RSR, and as a result, getting a 10 kg weight increase and 0.1 mm larger restrictor compared to its rear-engined predecessor.
“We’ll see what we can do and we’ll see what the FIA and ACO say,” Pericak said.
Pericak, meanwhile, admits the Chip Ganassi Racing team is better prepared for the race in its second attempt, which could pay dividends in other areas besides pure performance.
“We’re in a much better place this year than we were last year, and we were scrambling last year in our first year,” he said.
“It’s a different feeling in the garage even, because we’re focused on completely different things this year than we were last year.
“From that perspective it feels good because we’re not dealing with some of the growing pains.
“We’re looking to defend out title, obviously, not only from a historical perspective but to prove that we can do it again. We’ll see what happens.”