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Ford WEC Programme: The Management, Team Principal George Howard-Chappell

George-Howard-ChappellGeorge Howard Chappell has been out of the public eye since his departure from a long term tenure at Prodrive and Aston Martin Racing.

For some time though he’s been one of the key figures laying the foundations for the Ford re-entry into competition. Working for Multimatic Howard-Chappell has been a regular attendee at technical working groups for the past couple of years and has been busily preparing to launch a new team into racing.

So George as things stand in percentage terms how happy are you?

“90% happy, there’s a lot of work to do but it’s all going well.

“We tested just before Christmas in Florida and things went very well so yes, at the moment we’re happy.”

Confident?

“Yes, but not super confident, and certainly not assuming success.”

How many cars will the programme have available?

“Six. Both halves of the team will have two race cars and a spare car (these the refettled ex-development cars, one active since just before Le Mans, the other joining the programme in the early autumn)”

And will you have many of the WEC guys over at Daytona?

“Not many at all, we’ll have Multimatic people there but in terms of the ‘British’ team we’re very busy here building the race cars ready for March.”

And how many in the WEC team?

“Low 20s here at the workshops and low 30s on event, flying some people in from around the Multimatic empire.”

There is a question that keep coming up about the dynamic between the to teams at Le Mans.  Ford have had a history back in the day of that type of relationship not perhaps having been the most positive!

“We’re very knitted together, we had a mix of Multimatic and Chip Ganassi Racing guys at the last (Daytona) test – We’re all, of course, under the Chip Ganassi banner – the WEC team, generally speaking, are employees of Multimatic and the IMSA team, who again generally, are employees of Chip Ganassi Racing, but there is some overlap.

“So far it has been seamless, a very pleasant experience and that’s very much the directive from Ford. One team, and that will be particularly important of course if we get all four entries for Le Mans.”

Can you quantify the level of testing that’s been undertaken.

“There’s been a whole bunch.  The first car turned a wheel for the first time shortly before we unveiled the effort at Le Mans.  The first car, this car at the driver launch, came over for the Le Mans launch and then went back and has tested regularly since then.  That was still one car until the second development car came on stream in September October and that car has been out testing regularly too with both cars testing at quite a few of the places.

“We haven’t done absolutely huge mileage because it was initially a single car but quite a few thousand kilometres has been achieved.

“One of the really new things, in particular for GTE is of course the turbo engine, what effect has that had on the development curve?

“It’s always more challenging to do a turbo engine than a normally aspirated one because you have all the extra plumbing, the intercooling, the heat etc.

“What we have here is a fabulous, well developed EcoBoost unit which we’ve developed further for GTE.  Obviously it’s the same engine in the road car, not that we HAVE to use that, but there are many advantages to Ford that we do, it was a no brainer for us and it’s working really well.”

And reliability during the development process?

“Of all the cars I’ve been involved with it’s been very much one of the better ones!”

And are the IMSA squad ready for Daytona?

“It’s difficult to assess that if you look where we have come from, in particular for a 24 Hour race that can throw so many things at you.

“We have two good cars though that should be on the pace and have to run reliably – If they can do that then we should be in good shape.”

And as someone who has been around the endurance racing scene for a long time how do you feel the WEC stacks up?

“It looks great. I’ve been to races and I’m really looking forward to getting more directly involved there but the focus of the programme, very firmly, is Le Mans!

“We’re doing the full WEC and the full IMSA Championship but everyone is looking to Le Mans and personally I’m really looking forward to being back there.”

GG