Ford’s World Endurance Championship battle heads to the U.S. this weekend, to the Circuit of the Americas (COTA) in Austin, Texas. The Ford Chip Ganassi Racing team put up a strong fight at the previous round in Mexico, despite the city circuit not playing to the strengths of the Ford GT, which favours long corners and straights on which to “stretch its legs”.
The Circuit of the Americas is the only circuit on the WEC calendar to run in an anti-clockwise direction. The circuit’s fast, flowing corners will suit the Ford GTs so the team will be pushing to take as many points as possible from this event.
Championship leaders, Andy Priaulx and Harry Tincknell share the #67 Ford GT and they will be pushing hard to build on their lead at the top of the table. They finished fourth at COTA last year.
“COTA is a track that I love,” Priaulx said. “We were in with a chance of a podium last year and now we have a lot more experience behind us, which will help us with things like tyre management. I’m feeling very positive at the moment as we are heading into a run of tracks that are good for us: COTA, Fuji and Shanghai. Let’s hope we can start off a strong run at COTA.”
The biggest challenge facing the drivers at COTA is expected to be the heat. Last year the race began in the late afternoon and the heat was almost overwhelming. Unfortunately for Stefan Mücke (GER), he had an air-conditioning fault in the first hour, which required him to pit for immediate repairs. Mücke’s team mate Olivier Pla (FRA) suffered a different type of problem when he was hit by prototype race cars on two occasions.
“I’m going to COTA feeling optimistic,” Mücke said. “I really like the circuit and I think it will suit us this year. Tyre selection is the key thing at COTA, depending on the track temperatures so we will have to see how extreme the heat is this time. It’s a long track with lots of fast corners and that is where the Ford GT is very strong. I think we can get a good result there.”
The 6 Hours of COTA will get underway this Saturday, Sept. 16, at 12:00 midday local time (19:00 CET).