Stefan Mücke
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Fourth place in penultimate round of the 2017 FIA World Endurance Championship in China

• Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK driver Stefan Mücke in sight of podium for much of the race • Impressive pace gives hope for grand finale in Bahrain • Stefan: "P4 is obviously a disappointment - we had the pace to be in contention for the win"

Stefan Mücke and Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK travelled to China last weekend for the penultimate round of the 2017 FIA World Endurance Championship. The 58,000 spectators who came through the gates of the Shanghai International Circuit during the course of the weekend were rewarded with some spectacular racing.
 
The event got off to a promising start for Mücke and co-driver Olivier Pla, as they posted the top time in the first free practice session. The pace was fast enough to put them among the contenders for the win in the hotly contested LMGTE PRO class.
 
In the race itself, the number 66 Ford GT got off to a flying start. After the first driver change, Mücke consolidated second place and kept the gap to the leading Porsche constant, at the same time increasing the lead over the opposition. At one point, the duo even took the lead after the Porsche was forced to retire.
 
However, a defective door obliged the team to bring the Ford GT in for an unscheduled stop. As a result, Mücke and his team-mate lost a considerable amount of time. In the further course of the race, they incurred heavy tyre wear on this exceptionally demanding track and ultimately missed out on the podium by one position.
 
The season finale takes place in the framework of the Bahrain 6 Hours on 16th November at the Bahrain International Circuit.
 
Four questions for Stefan Mücke
 
Stefan, you had a really strong opening to the race. How was it from your perspective?
It was Olivier's turn to take the first stint. He worked his way forward quite fast and was in second place. I then took over in the cockpit and extended our lead over the pursuing bunch while at the same time holding the gap to the leading Porsche steady. It all looked very promising, and we had a strong pace. After the retirement of the Porsche, we were in the lead and had pulled out a considerable gap of 20 seconds over the car immediately behind.
 
You crossed the finish line in fourth place. Why did you miss out on the win?
During the second pit stop, when Olivier and I switched again, we had a problem with the door not closing properly. Consequently, we had to pit again, which obviously cost us a lost a lot of time and dropped us down to third place. That meant we had had to attack all the harder. The tyre wear is very high in Shanghai, which definitely did not help us in our pursuit. After the next stop, I managed to reduce the gap to the car in front. We then had a great fight and I got past him.
 
You fought back impressively, but then you fell behind again. What happened there?
One of our tyres had sustained damage in qualifying. There was debris on the track and we were unable to avoid it. As a result, we were one tyre down on the opposition. Towards the end, unfortunately, the tyres were totally shot. This not only cost us a lot of time but ultimately what had looked like an assured Top Three finish. P4 is obviously a disappointment, because we had the pace to be in contention for the win.
 
Next up is the season finale in Bahrain. How do you rate your chances there?
We are determined to finish our season on a high and definitely intend to be up there on the podium. And also, of course, we want to help our sister car in the battle for the title. They are in with a good chance. However, it's not going to be easy, because the track conditions change abruptly with the setting sun. The surface is very hot during the day, but at sunset, there is an extreme drop in temperature. We will do our utmost to put in a great performance for the finale and to finish on the podium.

Copy: Ford Chip Ganassi Racing