Ryan Briscoe and Richard Westbrook saw their chance of taking the 2018 GT Le Mans title slip away in the closing hours of the Motul Petit Le Mans on Saturday, with a late slide from the podium positions seeing them miss out on the championship by six points.
The #67 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing machine of Briscoe, Westbrook and Scott Dixon fell to fifth having run inside the top three, with the final half hour in particularly seeing them fall behind the two BMW Team RLL machines, meaning they were edged out of the championship by the #3 Corvette Racing duo of Antonio Garcia and Jan Magnussen.
Briscoe said the strategy calls were the right ones to make and they were able to keep themselves in the championship battle until the final hour, however it was disappointing to fall short in the final thirty minutes.
“I think we had a really solid day,” said Briscoe. “The guys did an awesome job. I think we drove the right strategy.
“We got the car to the front. We got it in the position where we were fighting for the championship in the last hour. I was doing qualifying laps for half of the last stint.
“We’ve had a really good year. A little bit too up-and-down. We need to work a little bit on our consistency for next year, but I had a blast. I love this race. I absolutely had a blast today.
“The last 30 minutes were just really disappointing.”
One positive for Ford was their victory in the GT Le Mans Teams’ Championship, with the #67 and #66 having taken five wins between them across the season. The #66 of Joey Hand and Dirk Müller was also victorious in the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup, much to the delight of the global director of Ford Performance Motorsports, Mark Rushbrook.
“Winning the GTLM Manufacturer’s Championship is a true testament to how well this Ford GT program has developed in our third year,” said Rushbrook. “This was by far our best season overall, as evidenced by our five wins from both the No. 66 and the No. 67 cars.
“Between the efforts of our engineers, the superb racecraft from Ford Chip Ganassi Racing and its drivers, and the efforts of our partners at Michelin, Roush Yates Engines and Multimatic, there has been a single focus among everyone this year to win a championship.
“I am so pleased we can bring that trophy back to share with our Ford employees around the world.”