Car News

Four-car Ford GT Le Mans entry 50 years after historic victory

The organisers of the Le Mans 24 Hours overnight confirmed four Ford GTs would be eligible for the 2016 Le Mans 24 Hours – 50 years on from the original GT40s historic victory.

THIS YEAR marks the 50th anniversary of the Ford GT40 scoring a 1-2-3 outright victory at the Le Mans 24-hour race, and this year four Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GTs will compete for GTE Pro class glory at the world’s greatest motor race, which takes place on June 18-19.

“It was great to see all four Ford GTs up there on the Le Mans entry list today,” said Dave Pericak, Ford Performance global director, who attended this afternoon’s press conference in Paris. “Newcomers are by no means guaranteed an entry, whatever their history or ambitions, so we thank the ACO for giving Ford the opportunity for a four car assault in June.”

“I’m very happy that we can run all four Ford GTs at Le Mans,” said Chip Ganassi,owner of Ford Chip Ganassi Racing. “It will be a big challenge for us but one we are thrilled to undertake. We have prepared well and can’t wait to get the Ford GTs onto the track there and show everyone what they can do.”

The #66 and #67 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing cars that run in the FIA World Endurance Championship will keep their race numbers for Le Mans. The two Ford GTs that run in the IMSA WeatherTechSportsCar Championship will receive new race numbers just for Le Mans: #66 becomes #68 and #67 becomes #69.

The configuration of the driver line-ups in the WEC cars will be announced at a later date, along with the identities of the third drivers for all four Ford GTs at Le Mans.

So, how different are the Le Mans race cars to the Ford GT road car? According to Ford, there are very few differences and that’s mainly because the road and race car versions were designed at the same time.

“First of all, there are very few differences,”Raj Nair, Ford’s executive vice president, global product development, and chief technical officer told Motor Authority. “This is pretty close to a no-waiver car.”

What’s a no-waiver car? One that wouldn’t have any changes made from road to race.

Looking at the race car, the headlights are different (no pedestrian safety requirements), indeed, the three-bank headlights on the GT are considerably brighter than the road car. The aerodynamics are also different. It’s all about downforce at speed and so there are tweaks to the inlets and winglets, there’s a unique diffuser and a fixed rear spoiler unlike the road car’s active rear spoiler. There are big inlets for cooling too.

The interior is clearly different; stripped bare with just the essentials for racing fitted.

The suspension is said to be the same with just final adjustments to things like camber and caster unique for the race car. Brakes are steel rather than carbon ceramic for the road car.
 
So, can Ford repeat history this time with a four-car victory?

Four Ford GTs to race at Le Mans

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Isaac Bober

Isaac Bober