Ford Chip Ganassi Racing have announced that the 2013 Indianapolis 500 winner Tony Kanaan will step in for the injured Sebastien Bourdais at the World Endurance Championship's showpiece event, the 24 Hours of Le Mans next month.
Brazilian Kanaan will make his series and Le Mans debut in the #68 Ford GT, partnering regular drivers Joey Hand and Dirk Muller, the partnership that won the GTE Pro category in the round-the-clock race last year, alongside Bourdais.
Whilst Kanaan competed in the latest running of the Indy 500 last Sunday, Bourdais' year was cut short, suffering multiple fractures to his pelvis and a fracture to his right hip during a horror crash in Qualifying for the race 11 days ago. It was announced soon after that the Frenchman is to miss the remainder of the 2017 season as a result of his injuries and rehabilitation.
IndyCar legend Kanaan, 42, is no stranger to the Ford's GT setup, having claimed ninth alongside British duo of Harry Tincknell and Andy Priaulx at the 24 Hours of Daytona last January - enough to take fifth in the GTLM class. He has been part of Chip Ganassi's team since 2014, even taking an overall win in the 2015 edition, driving a Riley built Ford powered prototype alongside Scott Dixon, Jamie McMurray and Kyle Larson.
Global director delighted
Global director of Ford Performance Dave Pericak expressed his delight in being able to secure a driver of Kanaan's quality and experience, but felt saddened by Bourdais' exclusion, saying "It's certainly not the ideal situation," and that he and Ford were "heartbroken that [Bourdais] won't be back to defend his race victory".
Whilst also expressing his sympathy for Bourdais, Kanaan admitted that it was "an honour" to be named in the Le Mans lineup saying that the race had "been on [his] bucket list for a long time."
Although Kanaan will miss the official test at Le Mans in order to race in the Detroit round of the Verizon IndyCar Series this weekend with Chip Ganassi Racing, he will be granted entry in to the race due to his platinum driver rating.