I recently took a look at all of the Silverstone 6 Hours lap and sector times from the World Endurance Championship’s timing site, trying to see if I could tell what the Chip Ganassi Racing UK Ford GTs were up to during the race. Their ultimate pace was considerably slower than any other cars in the GTE-PRO class, including the brand-new Ferrari 488 GTEs that ran away with the race while the Fords settled for 4th and 5th places. Call it sandbagging, call it whatever you want. The Fords were slow through all three sectors, slow in the speed trap, and slow in the overall lap times. Everyone in the Ganassi garages seemed happy with the race, so what exactly was going on?
For starters, both cars finished the race without issue. Additionally, the Fords double-stinted tires throughout the race, despite the fact that there was no competitive need to with the tire allotments for the shorter six-hour race. It’s pretty clear that they were doing some functional testing for Le Mans, gathering data. It’s also pretty clear that they were running both cars to a lap time, but as you can see from the plot of lap times (particularly the last 30 laps), the target time changed throughout the course of the race.
One quick note: Both the #66 and #67 ran their quickest times of the race in Lap 2. The #66 then ran its next four quickest in Laps 3-6 in descending order. I don’t know what that means, ultimately, but there’s probably some significance to it. I don’t think there’s much to be taken from the rest of the data on the Fords aside from “They were testing a bunch of thing.” And they’ll probably do the same at Spa in the WEC’s second round.
If you saw the race classifications and worried about the Fords’ lack of pace, fret not. I don’t think we saw even a shadow of what the cars’ pace at Le Mans will be and I feel there’s no reason to doubt they’ll have the pace once June rolls around, especially given that the GTs running in the IMSA series have been right no pace with the Risi Competizione Ferrari 488.