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      Ford wins IMSA WeatherTech manufacturer’s title; Hand, Müller take home TPNAEC in finale

      © Wes Duenkel

      Ford and the Chip Ganassi Racing team took home a pair of titles in the season-ending Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta on Saturday, claiming the IMSA WeatherTech manufacturer’s championship for GTLM and the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup (TPNAEC) in the same category.

      The Ford GT’s first season title came after the No. 66 and No. 67 cars combined for five victories on the year.

      “Winning the GTLM Manufacturer’s Championship is a true testament to how well this Ford GT program has developed in our third year,” said Mark Rushbrook, global director, Ford Performance Motorsports. “This was by far our best season overall, as evidenced by our five wins from both the No. 66 and the No. 67 cars.”

      Joey Hand and Dirk Müller came away with the TPNAEC for being the best-performing GTLM drivers in IMSA’s endurance races (Daytona, Sebring, Watkins Glen, Petit Le Mans).

      “This race is a tough race,” Hand said. “It’s a tough race track. It’s tough in traffic. We did exactly what we needed to do in the early runs to lead at the four-hour mark and then to get more points at the eighth hour to seal up the TPNAEC. That was the big thing for us today. As for the manufacturer’s championship, how many teams out here won five races this year? Winning the manufacturer’s championship for Ford is a big thing, and it just shows how strong a team we are. We work together as a team. This is not 66 and 67 when we’re back at the truck. We work together as a team, everybody has a great time with each other here. It’s a great place to race. I say it all the time. When the comfort level is high within a group of people, that’s going to produce results. And that’s what you see here.”

      Ryan Briscoe and Richard Westbrook of the No. 67 Ford GT fought into the last hour for the series’ GTLM driver’s championship title, ultimately coming up short. The duo finished the year in second, with Hand and Müller coming third.

      “I think we had a really solid day,” Briscoe said. “The guys did an awesome job. I think we drove the right strategy. We got the car to the front. We got it in the position where we were fighting for the championship in the last hour. I was doing qualifying laps for half of the last stint. We’ve had a really good year. A little bit too up-and-down. We need to work a little bit on our consistency for next year, but I had a blast. I love this race. I absolutely had a blast today. The last 30 minutes were just really disappointing.”