Ford’s Daytona victory loss a “kick in the teeth”

Richard Westbrook, part of the Ford GT crew that overcame a five lap deficit to lead the GT Le Mans class in the closing stages of the Rolex 24 at Daytona, has described missing out on the win as “really, really tough to take.”

Ford’s Daytona victory loss a “kick in the teeth”

Ford Chip Ganassi Racing was gunning for a third straight Rolex 24 win and appeared to have it in the bag – against all odds – until the second red flag was thrown for a waterlogged track.

The #67 Castrol-liveried Ford GT of Ryan Briscoe, Richard Westbrook and Scott Dixon suffered early misfortune when Briscoe smacked the pit-exit wall after his first stop while running second, and the car needed to go back to the paddock for repairs. By the time it emerged and suffered more penalties for entering a closed pit, it was five laps down.

However, fast driving from the trio, smart pit strategy and slick pitwork saw the Ford regain three of those laps long before half-distance. Then strong stints in the rain from Dixon (despite a brief spin) and Westbrook and more quick thinking on the pit wall in response to full-course cautions got the car onto the lead lap.

Westbrook had hit the front of the GT Le Mans pack following the first race stoppage but needed to pit for more fuel when the yellows flew again for a crash.

However, IMSA then threw the red for a second (and eventually permanent) stoppage, and the #67 was penalized for entering a closed pit, costing it a lap and dumping it in fourth place.

“I thought we played it beautifully,” said Westbrook. “We were five laps down, though it took us a lot longer to get those laps back than we ever anticipated. Patience was the key, though, and we got them back.

“We knew it was going to rain at the end, so they put me in the car, and I love the rain. I had to be really patient in the beginning, just getting used to the conditions.

“Finally I got some confidence out there and we were able to pull out a sizeable gap in the lead. And at that point we were in control, but I just couldn’t understand why we were still running at that point.”

“It’s really, really tough to take it right now, when you consider the fight that we put on. To come away with nothing is a real kick in the teeth when we had gotten ourselves in the right spot.”

The #66 car of Joey Hand, Dirk Muller and Sebastien Bourdais finished seventh, but like their teammates, achieved less than they deserved. Throughout the race, the trio were in the thick of the fight for GTLM honors that frequently saw six of the nine cars in the GTLM class covered by just a handful of seconds.

Even when Bourdais skated off the wet track and struck the tire wall at the International Horseshoe corner with around 9h30m still to go, he was able to rejoin and the Ganassi team’s fast repair work got the car back on the lead lap.

However, in the worst conditions, with three hours still to run but with the #66 at the front, the #911 Porsche of Frederic Makowiecki ran into the back of the Ford, sending Hand to the paddock for 19mins of repairs. He would rejoin several laps down and finish seventh.

“We had a car that was quick enough to win this race,” said Hand, “and we got ourselves in a position to win or at least have a good shot at it.

“Out front, the rain was treacherous, and I was surprised we went green, but everybody’s in the same boat. I just drove it down into Turn 1 and got hit from behind by a Porsche just spinning out of control. That’s not the way you want to start the season.”

shares
comments
Rossi: Acura “absolutely” could have won in the dry

Previous article

Rossi: Acura “absolutely” could have won in the dry

Next article

BMW dedicates Rolex 24 GTLM triumph to Lamm

BMW dedicates Rolex 24 GTLM triumph to Lamm
Load comments
Why a Mazda IMSA Prototype title would bring bitter joy Prime

Why a Mazda IMSA Prototype title would bring bitter joy

Can Mazda win this year’s IMSA Prototype championship? Undoubtedly. But it will be the culmination of an achingly hard struggle, after which the brand has decided to quit. David Malsher-Lopez tells the story of a bizarre blend of heartache and positivity.

IMSA
Apr 6, 2021
The GTE dilemma that IMSA has created for the WEC Prime

The GTE dilemma that IMSA has created for the WEC

The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s decision to scrap its GT Le Mans class for 2022 raises the question of whether the FIA World Endurance Championship should phase out GTE cars. But it's a much harder decision than it appears on the surface.

WEC
Feb 3, 2021
Nine things to watch at the 2021 Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona Prime

Nine things to watch at the 2021 Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona

After a 100-minute sprint race to whet the appetite, the 2021 IMSA SportsCar Championship gets underway properly this weekend. With plenty of significant changes during the winter, here are the key points you need to keep an eye on

IMSA
Jan 29, 2021
Why Magnussen is relishing a fresh start in sportscars Prime

Why Magnussen is relishing a fresh start in sportscars

Having gone over seven years without a race win through spells with McLaren, Renault and Haas, Kevin Magnussen's departure from Formula 1 for IMSA with big-hitters Chip Ganassi Racing could give him what he craves most - a chance of success

IMSA
Jan 29, 2021
Oliver Gavin's Corvette Racing highlights Prime

Oliver Gavin's Corvette Racing highlights

Oliver Gavin has stepped down from the full-time Corvette Racing line-up after a stellar career with the team spanning nearly 20 years. He looks back on a stint that encompassed, among other successes, five Le Mans 24 Hours victories.

Le Mans
Jan 28, 2021
How Tandy joined an exclusive club of endurance legends Prime

How Tandy joined an exclusive club of endurance legends

Victory at last year's Spa 24 Hours meant Nick Tandy had completed the unofficial sextuple crown of the world's six biggest endurance races, becoming the first Briton to do so. Ahead of his fresh start with Corvette Racing, he explains how he did it…

Le Mans
Jan 24, 2021
The 12 greatest Sebring 12 Hours ranked Prime

The 12 greatest Sebring 12 Hours ranked

The 2020 edition of the Florida sportscar classic is finally taking place this weekend, eight months after its traditional date in March. That meant there was plenty of time for Motorsport.com to pour over its previous 67 races and select the best.

IMSA
Nov 11, 2020
Tony Kanaan’s top 10 races – in his own words Prime

Tony Kanaan’s top 10 races – in his own words

The 2004 IndyCar champion and 2013 Indy 500 winner Tony Kanaan probably hasn’t yet driven his final IndyCar race, but we still asked him for the 10 most significant races of his career. He explained his choices to David Malsher-Lopez.

IndyCar
Sep 7, 2020