Ford GT planning four-car effort at Le Mans through 2019

The No. 68 Ford GT of Joey Hand, Dirk Muller and Sebastien Bourdais competes during the 24 Hours of Le Mans on June 18, 2016 in Le Mans, France.

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Ford is poised to continue its four-car factory GTE-Pro effort at the 24 Hours of Le Mans through 2019, as part of the recently announced two-year extension of its FIA World Endurance Championship and IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship programs.

Ford Performance global director Dave Pericak confirmed to Sportscar365 plans to again submit four entry requests, in what would be an identical program seen this year with Ford Chip Ganassi Racing.

“I would love to come back next year with four cars for Le Mans,” Pericak told Sportscar365.

“As you know, two of them have to be invited in, so we will make our intention known that we would love to see all four cars return again, but that will be up to the sanctioning body.”

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Three of the four entries are already locked in for the French endurance classic, with Ganassi’s two season-long WEC cars automatically included in the points-paying race and the IMSA-based No. 68 car receiving an auto invite for its 2016 Le Mans class victory.

Pericak said the budget is already in place for a four-car Le Mans assault for the next three years.

“The things that I think people will recognize [are]; yes, we conquered the race this year and that was fantastic; there’s a championship that we’d love to win; and wouldn’t it be great to come back and win Le Mans more than once? We’re committed to this for four years,” he said.

While Ganassi is set to again operate the cars next year in both series, as part of its initial agreement, Pericak said it’s not yet been confirmed for the 2018 or 2019 seasons, but would be the plan to continue with the championship-winning team.

Pericak, meanwhile, has ruled out customer Ford GTs for next year, but admitted it’s something they are looking at “in the years after.”

The Ford GT, along with all other 2016-spec GTE-Pro cars will be eligible for the GTE-Am class beginning next year.