According to Motorsport, the new Ford GT may race for the first time at Le Mans this year. That report confirms the car will be powered by a Roush-Yates 3.5-liter turbo V6 Ecoboost engine similar to the V6 turbo that currently runs in Ford’s Daytona Prototypes. It will also be fitted with a Ricardo gearbox. Much of the engineering for the race car took place at Multimatic’s “design cell” in Cambridgeshire, England.
Jalopnik reports that Larry Holt, Multimatic’s technical director, pushed Ford hard to get the contract for the race car as well as the road going version of the new Ford GT. George-Howard Chappell, formerly the team principal of Aston Martin Racing, will be heading up the racing program. Julian Sole, former Lola Le Mans prototype designer is also part of the team and has brought several of his Lola colleagues with him to work on the Ford GT’s design.
The car began testing at Calabogie Motorsports Park in Ontario on May 16 with driver Scott Maxwell at the wheel. Longer testing will take place right up until it is time to send the car off to Le Mans for the beginning of this year’s 24 hour endurance race on June 13.
The appearance at Le Mans may be the only on track appearance for the new Ford GT. After the race, it will be taken to the FIA/ACO performance tests at the Ladoux test facility and may not race again until the 24 race at Daytona in February of 2016.
Perhaps Ford is still developing the car in advance of a triumphant return to Le Mans 50 years to the day after it swept to a stunning 1-2-3 finish in the 1966 race, demolishing the cars from Maranello in the process while Enzo Ferrari fumed in the pits. Building a winning race car today takes more than a full set of box end wrenches from Sears. Tons of time and boatloads of money are required and even then, there is no guarantee of success.
As Formula One flails, endurance racing has enjoyed a resurgence. Ford would dearly love to recapture that magic moment from 50 years ago with the all new, ultra-fast, ultra-sexy Ford GT.