In what is perhaps the worst kept secret in motorsport this year, Ford has officially announced the company will be revoking factory support of the Ford GT program this year, which means the WEC program will end with the season closing Le Mans 24 in June, and the IMSA program will conclude at Petit Le Mans in October.
As far as Ford is concerned, the program was successful with ten IMSA and six WEC victories thus far, including two Daytona 24 and a Le Mans 24 victory. They’ll of course be looking to end the effort on a high note with another Le Mans win, but Ford’s pulling the plug either way.
When the 2019/2020 WEC season kicks off with the September Silverstone race this fall, the Multimatic team is rumored to have the option to continue to race in the series without official Ford support. Similarly, the IMSA effort is run by Chip Ganassi Racing, which will presumably also be given the option of continuing as a privateer effort.
Until recently, no Ford GT race cars were supplied to non-factory efforts, but that changes with Le Mans this June. IMSA regular Ben Keating will join Jeroen Bleekemolen and Felipe Fraga to field a Ford GT in the GTE Amateur class. Meanwhile the four factory supported Ford GTs will be competing in the GTE Pro category.
Mark Rushbrook, Global Director of Ford Motorsports Performance told Autoweek that he is looking to move the Detroit-based motorsport giant on to something new, indicating possible interest in Formula E, electric rallycross, top-tier prototype racing, or supplying engines to IndyCar. That said, Ford representatives have previously distanced the company from any IndyCar rumors. Considering how much a global GTE/GTLM effort costs to run, Ford could likely make a couple of these ideas reality for the same budget.
If Ford does move into another of these disciplines, they might be wise to take a few of its factory-supported Ford GT racing drivers along for the ride. The Ford GT roster of drivers is among the most polished group of sports car and open wheel racers in the world, so digging a couple of the well-seasoned IndyCar talents out of the Chip Ganassi team might not be a terrible idea if the company wanted to jump into Formula E. Any two driver combination from Sebastien Bourdais, Ryan Briscoe, Scott Dixon, or Olivier Pla would be instantly quick in FE. Not that Ford needs my advice on who should drive for the team.