Say it with me now: U-S-A! U-S-A! In its first ever running at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the all-new Ford GT will start on pole and in second in the LM GTE Pro class.
It’s a remarkable achievement for the twin-turbo V6 car just a year after its unveiling, and for a race exactly 50 years after the original Ford GT40's historic win at the 1966 running of Le Mans.
Ford and Porsche fans, thank Mother Nature for the rain. Today’s two wet qualifying sessions offered few chances for teams to beat their fastest laps from Wednesday’s first qualifying session. Porsche 919s took an overall 1-2 in qualifying, and the Ford GT will start 1 and 2 in LM GTE Pro, too. The other two Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GTs start in 4th and 5th as well.
This year’s pole sitting lap was a 3:19.733 set by Neel Jani in the No. 2 LMP1-class Porsche 919. Its sister 919, the No. 1, will start from second position.
Because Le Mans sets its grid based on a team’s fastest lap, little changed from yesterday’s results. The No. 13 Rebellion Racing car was still the fastest of the privateer LMP1s, the No. 26 G-Drive Racing car will start off LMP2, the No. 68 Ford Chip Ganassi Team USA GT grabbed pole in LM GTE Pro, and LM GTE Am will be led by the No. 61 Clearwater Racing.
At this point, teams were mostly logging much needed practice laps for a potentially soggy weekend.
What of the controversy over the Ford GTs’ blisteringly quick times, then? The Automobile Club l’Ouest says that they’re investigating the Balance of Performance measures applied in the GT classes that are meant to even out the performance of the cars somewhat, per Daily Sportscar.
While the Ferrari 488 GTEs in LM GTE Pro were also trading fastest laps with the Ford GTs, ACO sporting director Vincent Beaumesnil confirmed to Daily Sportscar that there’s a possibility of tweaks being made on Friday night to better equalize the performance of the cars in the GT classes.
We’ll keep an eye on what happens there and see if anything comes down on the fast Fords or Ferraris. Otherwise, we may see that infamous 1966 battle play out all over again.