Porsche & Ford Battling For GT Supremacy

Ryan Briscoe and Richard Westbrook have won the last two GT Le Mans events, helping them close the gap on the Pfaff Motorsports Porsche team. (IMSA Photo)
Ryan Briscoe and Richard Westbrook have won the last two GT Le Mans events, helping them close the gap on the Pfaff Motorsports Porsche team. (IMSA Photo)

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – There are no hotter GT teams currently in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship than Ford Chip Ganassi Racing and Pfaff Motorsports.

The Ganassi squad – and more specifically, No. 67 Ford GT co-drivers Ryan Briscoe and Richard Westbrook – are winners of the past two races in the GT Le Mans (GTLM) class. In fact, the team’s No. 66 entry, shared by Joey Hand and Dirk Mueller, has finished on the podium in the last two races also with a second-place run earlier at Road America and a third-place showing last month at Lime Rock Park.

What’s more, Briscoe and Westbrook finished third in the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen at Watkins Glen International at the end of June. So, they head into this weekend’s two-hour, 40-minute Michelin GT Challenge at VIRginia International Raceway with a winning streak and three podiums in their past four races.

“Watkins Glen and moving forward from there, we’ve been running strong,” Briscoe said. “We got to Lime Rock and we won it on strategy. We executed really well.

“It was sort of the same thing at Road America. We weren’t the fastest car, but we ran a perfect race and didn’t make any mistakes. We were really good on the long runs. As everyone else’s tires fell off, we seemed to hold that little bit longer that made the difference. I think in terms of how we have won the last two races, we’re hoping for more of the same at VIR. Hopefully, our consistency can pay off again.”

Pfaff Motorsports and driver Zacharie Robichon are hoping for more of the same at VIR, too. The team picked up its first WeatherTech Championship victory at Lime Rock with Robichon and Porsche Young Professional Dennis Olsen bringing the plaid, No. 9 Porsche 911 GT3 R across the line first in the GT Daytona (GTD) class by the slimmest of margins – 0.010 seconds – ahead of the No. 86 Meyer Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3 shared by Trent Hindman and Mario Farnbacher.

Moving from the shortest track on the schedule – the 1.5-mile Lime Rock Park – to the longest, Road America at four miles, Robichon and the Pfaff team picked up a second consecutive win, this time with another Porsche Young Professional in Matt Campbell sharing the No. 9 machine. This time, they were a lap ahead of the second-place finishers, Bryan Sellers and Corey Lewis in the No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini Huracán GT3.

“Certainly, in the summer months, we’ve come together as a team and we’ve gotten the results,” said Robichon, who currently leads the standings for the inaugural, seven-race WeatherTech Sprint Cup and is third in the overall WeatherTech Championship GTD season standings. “For me personally, being able to lead the Sprint championship is special.

“But that being said, there are still three races to go. If you look at the way our season’s gone – from one extreme to the other – just as quickly as it started going better, it can turn around and hit us back. So, we know that we need to keep focusing on what we’re doing.”

Apparently, staying focused on what you’re doing – especially when things are going right like they have been for both teams – is a key to retaining that all-important momentum. At least, that’s what the drivers say.

“I think for sure, it’s good,” says Briscoe of momentum. “It gets everyone feeling confident and positive, which helps. I don’t know if it ultimately makes a difference, but it certainly is a good feeling when you’re moving forward with confidence because you’re doing a good job. It just helps as a whole for team motivation, knowing that everyone’s on the same page to go out knowing we can win races.”

Robichon concurs.

“I think as a whole, we’re a lot more confident in ourselves and a lot more sure of the drivers individually, but as well as each and every team member,” he said. “I think they know what they have to do and everybody has that much more confidence.

“We recognize the fact that the past two races we’ve had, we’ve had a little bit of luck, but you have to be in the right position to be able to capitalize on that luck. Going forward, what we want to do is just keep that same mentality.”