After nearly a month of rumors and speculation, Chip Ganassi Racing and Ford made their new partnership official Tuesday, confirming that the most successful team in Daytona Prototype history will make the switch to EcoBoost V6 engines for the 2014 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship.
The announcement was made during the Ford press conference at the 2013 SEMA show.
CGR will utilize Ford’s 3.5-liter V6 EcoBoost engine for the TUDOR Championship, with Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas returning to pilot the team’s Riley Daytona Prototype beginning with January’s Rolex 24 at Daytona.
“Partnering with Chip and his championship-caliber organization in this new sports car series is a critical ingredient to our Ford EcoBoost program in USCC,” said Jamie Allison, director of Ford Racing. “Chip’s team has a legacy of winning in endurance sports car racing, excellent technical capabilities, and race proven experiences– all elements we were looking for to field our Ford EcoBoost racing program.
Ganassi, which notched its seventh DP teams’ championship in 2013, ran Dinan-tuned BMW engines for the last four seasons in the Rolex Sports Car Series, including its new 4.5-liter V8, which debuted at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in August.
Talks between Ford and Ganassi were believed to have begun more than two months ago, culminating with today’s announcement.
“We are very excited to be switching to Ford power for our sports car program,” said Chip Ganassi. “Over the last 10 seasons we have been able to experience a great deal of success in GRAND-AM and now with the dawn of the new United SportsCar Championship we feel that Ford power will be a key ingredient to writing the next chapter of our sports car program. I can’t wait for the 24 hours at Daytona to get here.”
For five-time GRAND-AM champion Pruett, it marks a homecoming as the California native began his road racing career with Ford in the IMSA GTO series in 1985.
He was signed to run full-time as a Ford factory driver in 1986 and won four IMSA and SCCA Trans-Am championships in three years before moving to Indy car racing.
Additionally, Pruett’s career Indy car wins also came with Ford power, and his one full season in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series came behind the wheel of a Ford Taurus.
“Coming back to Ford is the perfect way to bookend my career,” said Pruett. “To be honest, without Ford, there is no Scott Pruett. Ford gave me the chance to drive my first real race car – the front-engine Mustang GTP in 1983 – and then they were willing to take a chance on me when no one else did in 1985 and 1986.
“It’s exciting to be back with them to work on an exciting new program like the Ford EcoBoost engine effort. I can’t wait to get behind the wheel in off-season testing and feel what I have been hearing all about.”
Ford debuted its new EcoBoost DP engine in September at Daytona, when Colin Braun drove the V6 twin-turbo-powered Michael Shank Racing Riley to a new track record of 222.971 mph.
With its new engine and bodywork package offerings, the American automaker had been actively pursuing additional teams for 2014 to join longtime supporter Michael Shank Racing.
Ganassi’s commitment to Ford, however, leaves questions over the scale of BMW’s DP engine program for 2014, with Team Sahlen so far the only confirmed team to utilize the Bavarian manufacturer’s powerplants.