Ford to return to Le Mans with new GT race car
Ford is taking its all-new GT racing. In preparation of a return to Le Mans next year, the Blue Oval has revealed the aerodynamic carbon fiber racer it'll put on the track. And the new GT looks just as good as a sponsor-badged race car as it did a glistening, electric-blue show car at NAIAS 2015.
Ford revealed the GT race car at this year's 24 Hours of Le Mans event over the weekend. It will compete in the LM GTE Pro class at the 2016 24 Hours, which marks the 50th anniversary of Ford's historic GT40 Le Mans win in 1966, the first of four consecutive Le Mans victories. The 1966 victory was particularly significant because it was the first time an American manufacturer wrestled Le Mans from the Europeans' hands. Ford rounded off an extremely strong showing by also taking the second and third spots at the 1966 race.
The new Ford GT racer will compete in the full 2016 schedules of the FIA World Endurance Championship and TUDOR United SportsCar Championship. Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates will operate the two four-car teams.
"We’ve won races and championships, but we’ve never run Le Mans,” says Chip Ganassi. "When presented the opportunity to compete with the all-new Ford GT on the world’s biggest sports car stage, and on the 50th anniversary of one of the most storied victories in racing history, how could any race team not want to be part of that?"
The GT race car shares the production supercar's focus on advanced aerodynamics, lightweight composite construction, and EcoBoost power. Like this year's Detroit show car, the GT race car relies on a 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 engine.
"As we developed the Ford GT, from the outset, we wanted to ensure we had a car that has what it takes to return Ford to the world of GT racing," explains Raj Nair, Ford Motor Company group vice president, global product development, and chief technical officer. "We believe the Ford GT’s advances in aerodynamics, light-weighting and EcoBoost power will make for a compelling race car that can once again compete on a global stage."
While the new GT will be making its debut on the track in 2016, the 3.5-liter twin-turbo EcoBoost already has some racing experience under its belt. The engine debuted in 2014 on the EcoBoost Riley race car as part of the Tudor United SportsCar Championship. It took home victories at the 2014 12 Hours of Sebring and 2015 Rolex 24 at Daytona.
The Ford GT race car will make its debut at the Rolex 24 at Daytona in January, with drivers to be announced closer to the start of the season.
The two-minute video below bridges Ford's Le Mans past with the present. Even if you're not a racing fanatic, it should get you excited about the return.