Ford are open to following their competitors and selling their cars to customer teams in the future. Motorsport boss Mark Rushbrook believes that customer teams could be the ‘bridge’ that sees Ford in a position to compete in the prototype class in the future.
Ford currently race in FIA World Endurance Championship and IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship as strong contenders in the GT classes. However, the Detroit manufacturer has been weighing up option of taking the American sports car into the LMP1 class and DPi class. With LMP1 moving to a more privateer focused class and IMSA potentially moving their DPi regulations to match the LMP1 class ones, this could be the chance that Ford have been waiting for.
The goal has been set to try and get Ford into the LMP1/DPi classes as early as 2021.
Rushbrook, recently appointed as Ford’s Performance Global Motorsports Director, has revealed that the plan is to either extend the current Ford Chip Ganassi Racing programs or to open up the option of customers purchasing a race team, in the same style that Ferrari, Porsche and Aston Martin do in WEC LM GTE Am class.
“We’ve got six GT race cars… There’s a future for those cars well beyond 2019,” Rushbrook said, speaking to Sportscar365. “If it makes sense to bridge into something, either as a factory program or a customer program, then yeah [we would do it].”
There had been talk of Ford potentially fielding an Am entry for last year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, but this got scrapped when the team decided to focus fully on their Pro-factory entries.
The rumour is that there is already a U.S.-based gentleman driver who would potentially be interested in starting a customer race program with Ford.
“It would have been relatively straight forward to run some cars in GTE-Am. A lot of people came to us and said, ‘Hey just give us a car and we can race it.’
“Obviously, with the WEC team and IMSA team coming together, all of our global resources are consumed with those four cars.
“To run a fifth car or sixth car it would have been too much and would have taken our focus off the pro effort. So we chose not to.”
Discussions are believed to be happening between Ford and potential outlets who are interested in running a customer team, but it is still unclear whether or not Ford would be happy to divide their resources between their own factory teams and those that were being run by customers.