Stunning GT concept car is the basis for a comeback to the famous enduro, five decades on from Ford’s first triumph in 1966
FORD will return to the Le Mans 24-hour in 2016 using the Ford GT supercar that was shown at the 2015 Detroit Motor Show.
Ford will not only compete in the legendary French race, which is being held this weekend at the Circuit de la Sarthe, but the entire FIA World Endurance Championship in the LM GTE Pro class. The first event for the team, which will be operated by Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates – a partnership that’s seen success in both IndyCar and NASACAR events – will be the Rolex 24-hour at Daytona in January 2016.
When the Ford GT concept was shown at the Detroit show in January, it wasn’t difficult to connect the dots that the brand was staging a comeback to Le Mans, especially with 2016 the fiftieth anniversary of the first of four consecutive victories in the race with the iconic Ford GT40.
Ford joins Porsche, Audi, Toyota, Aston Martin, Bentley, Ferrari, Chevrolet and Nissan as sports car racing continues to lure manufacturers to the envy of categories including Formula One. The car maker claims that its entry into both series is ‘a further proof point of Ford innovation’ despite the fact that it’s not competing in the top-level category alongside Mark Webber’s Porsche 919 and the high-tech Audi and Toyota entries.
What we will indeed see is a race version of the 3.5-litre V6 that was mid-mounted in the show car, with the development carried out by the legendary Roush outfit that currently specialised in highly-tuned Ford Mustangs. The GT will also rely heavily on carbonfibre, from its body parts to wheels. Indeed, Ford claims that the GT will be the first production car to market with carbonfibre wheels.
“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,” said Ford vice president and chief technical officer, Raj Nair. “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.”
The announcement is part of a push for road-going Ford Performance line-up that in addition to the GT includes the Ford Focus RS, Focus ST and Fiesta ST, as well as the Ford F-150 Raptor and hot versions of the Ford Mustang including the Shelby GT350 and GT350R.
Sadly, while the news is welcomed among racing and supercar fans, the GT won’t make it to Australian showrooms when the production model arrives in 2016, as the limited production run of 250 cars will be left-hand drive only.
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