Joey Hand "Ford’s level of commitment is higher than I’ve ever seen"

Joey Hand will be one of the four Ford drivers in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. The American will drive the #66 Ford GT along with former team-mate at BMW, Dirk Mueller.

Ford Performance Chip Ganassi will field two cars in the demanding and heavily factory supported GT Le Mans class (GTLM) challenging prestigious brands like BMW, Corvette, Ferrari and Porsche.

Joey Hand talked about the new factory Ford effort, his team-mate Dirk Mueller and how the brand is commited to this new challenge.

I started to learn more about the Ford GT throughout the year. We were running the 3.5L EcoBoost in the DP car in preparation for the GT car. For me, it was an easy switch. They said they were going to do a GT car, and I was automatically part of the program.

It’s exciting to have my old pal Dirk Muller back. We’re going to be paired up, we’ve won a lot of races together. It’s nice to be with somebody you know. In sports car racing, it’s all about that give and take. You have to compromise a little bit. Dirk and I know what we want from the car, and I think it will be fun.

Everybody asks how it handles as for a GT car with mid-engine, but you don’t even notice it. This car just feels like a race car. It doesn’t do anything weird, and from a driver’s perspective, you like that. I’ve tested it five times, and you can tune it. We’re not sure how fast it is, but I do know we can work with it.

Ford’s level of commitment is higher than I’ve ever seen, and I’ve driven for other manufacturers before. This is a really big deal to Ford, right at the very top – I was just hanging out with Edsel Ford and Henry Ford. The guy with his name on the building is 100-percent on board and loves this program. He loves this car, and thinks it’s a great idea. Ford’s all on board, from top to bottom.

We need to make the car quick, but at Daytona, the most important thing is making the car go for 24 hours. We’ve done 12 hour tests at Sebring, and we ran a lot of laps during the recent test at Daytona with no problems, so right now we’re on a good pace as far as not having issues. I think it’s realistic that we will go to Daytona and be competitive.