Ford to challenge Le Mans again?

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Le Mans has just been run and won by Porsche, taking the glory away from Audi. However, in 2016, Ford has indicated they will enter the new Ford GT in the LM GTE Pro class.

In 1966, Ford GT40s swept the podium at Le Mans, signaling to Ferrari that its era of dominance in endurance racing was officially over. GT40s delivered victories at Le Mans from 1967-69 as well, but by 1970 the cars were no longer competitive against Porsche’s 917 and the factory withdrew. However, to mark the 50th anniversary of its 1966 first-second-third finish at Le Mans, Ford has officially announced that its new Ford GT will return to Le Mans in 2016.

Ford GT Le Mans.Ford GT Le Mans.

Of the official announcement that Ford will return to Le Mans on the 50th anniversary of its podium sweep, executive chairman Bill Ford said, “When the GT40 competed at Le Mans in the 1960s, Henry Ford II sought to prove Ford could beat endurance racing’s most legendary manufacturers. We are still extremely proud of having won this iconic race four times in a row, and that same spirit that drove the innovation behind the first Ford GT still drives us today.”

The new Ford GT will race at far more than Le Mans in 2016. Current plans have the cars running the full schedule of the FIA World Endurance Championship (likely to be eight races, including Le Mans) plus the full 13 race schedule of the Tudor United Sports Car Championship. The season will open for the Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates team in January, with the 24 Hours of Daytona. Counting both series, four cars will be campaigned, with driver announcements expected in the coming weeks.

Unlike the Ford GT40s, which relied upon normally aspirated 7.0 liter (427-cu.in.) V8s in 1966-’67 and 4.9 liter (299-cu.in.) V8s in 1968 and ’69, the 2016 Ford GT will be powered by a turbocharged 3.5 liter EcoBoost V6, developed with performance partner Roush Yates Engines.