Clever marketing ploy gets attention of busy Londoners

The Ford GT race car will make its long-awaited debut at the season-opening race of the FIA World Endurance Championship this weekend, April 17, 2016, at Silverstone. Two GT racers under Ford Chip Ganassi Racing will take to the field with an eye towards making a resounding debut in the WEC. That’s all well and good but before the #86 and #87 racers take to the track, Ford dropped an incredible piece of marketing featuring the aforementioned race car in the streets of London.

The objective was simple. Ahead of the GT’s debut at Silverstone this weekend, Ford wanted it to get acclimated with the track by having it do a lap around the racing circuit. Seems simple enough, right? Well, thing is that “circuit” is actually the hectic streets of London, which was mapped in such a way to closely resemble the twists and turns of Silverstone. Ford even embraced the whole stunt by describing it “the slowest recorded lap time around its tongue-and-cheek version of Silverstone. Turns out, setting that record proved to be a breeze as the notorious traffic in the megacity kept the Ford GT (that was actually loaded aboard a transport truck) from completing a single lap for two hours and 20 minutes.

The GT’s snail’s pace – or was it the transport truck? – did come with some benefits as awestruck pedestrians who probably didn’t know what was going on were all there, smartphones in hand, to capture the moment. It’s a great way to introduce the Ford GT race car to British racing fans, but let’s all hope that the pace it set in London won’t be what it does when the real racing happens in the real Silverstone this weekend.

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Why it matters

Ford GT Race Car Completes Slowest Lap Of "Silverstone"
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It’s a clever marketing ploy by Ford Europe, that much I’m willing to concede. At the very least, it got the attention of all the tourists, office workers, and other people walking around the streets of London. I’m not sure how effective it was in actually getting people to watch the race this weekend, but at least they’ll remember the Ford GT race car more than anything else. Hopefully, Ford’s decision to make light of this situation doesn’t come back and bite it in the posterior when it comes to the actual World Endurance Championship race. That would be a little embarrassing if the two GT race cars fail to make an impression in the race.

The Ford GT race car was introduced at the 2016 Geneva Motor Show. There are a lot of people who are expecting great things out of the race car now that it’s been tapped to compete in the WEC and the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The latter, in particular, is a big deal for Ford since this year marks the 50th anniversary of the original GT40’s incredible 1-2 finish back in 1966. The onus now falls on the shoulders of drivers Olivier Pia, Stefan Mucke, and Billy Johnson. All three will be piloting the #66 Ford GT while the trio of Andy Priaulx, Marino Franchitti, and Harry Tincknell will all be behind the wheel of the #67 Ford GT.

I hope the two cars are successful. It’s been a while since we last saw an American racer win in the top-flight of endurance racing. It would be awesome if the new GT does it, especially with the achievements and history of its predecessor looming large over it.

Ford GT Le Mans

2016 Ford GT Le Mans
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Read our full review on the Ford GT Le Mans here.

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