Olivier Pla: “He Just Hit Me in the Back”

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Credit: Ford Chip Ganassi Media

It was a disastrous race for the Ford GT cars, with neither Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK car finishing within the top six at the 6 Hours of Shanghai.

While the #66 drivers remains second in the FIA World Endurance Championship GTE standings, a third non-top five finish in a row puts them 43 points behind class leading #92 Porsche GT Team.

Olivier Pla, driving the polesitting #66 was punted off by the Porsche after the first red flag period, but as the race dried up later on teammate Stefan Mucke failed to maintain their early weekend pace and remained down in seventh as the flag came out.

“That was not the result we hoped for, especially when starting from pole position,” said team principal George Howard-Chappell.

“The conditions were difficult for everyone today but in the heavy rain both Ford GTs had excellent pace. Oli got punted off early by the Porsche, which started the run of issues that ultimately left us further down the order than we deserved. Tyre choice and the changing weather conditions did not go our way either. We tried our best but not a great day at the office.”

Pla was pleased with the teams pace in the torrential rain, but was obviously frustrated about the contact.

“The start of the race went really well, despite the difficult conditions,” Pla said. “Our pace when it was really wet was great but unfortunately I was spun off by the championship-leading Porsche. We were fighting for position and he just hit me in the back, which is not right. 

“When the track started to dry we found that we just couldn’t get our tyres to work with the car so we were fighting that all the way. We’re pretty disappointed to end up in ninth position after starting from pole.”

It was not much better for the sister #67 car, who crossed the line a dismal ninth. An early spin into the gravel had ruined their race chances, finishing over two minutes behind the leader.

The Chinese race marks the last event of 2018, as the teams prepare for the 2019 leg of their Super Season with three events to go.

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