Ford GT Racing Program Extended Until 2019
Ford will compete in the WEC and IMSA for another two years after its initial timetableby Kirby Garlitos, on
After a hugely successful comeback at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Ford announced plans to extend its commitment to motor racing through the 2019 season, opening the door for the company’s racing division to compete in the World Endurance Championships and the IMSA for the next three years. Ford initially revealed plans to race the Ford GT in the 2016 and 2017 racing seasons only.
Ford executive vice president and chief Raj Nair commented on the automaker’s decision by emphasizing Ford’s commitment to motor racing in the wake of its dominant 1-3-4 performance in the GTE Pro class at Le Mans. The result not only proved that Ford’s GT racing program was a huge success, but it also showed the automaker that it has the potential to be a major player in the racing scene for the next few years.
Ford is currently competing in GTE Pro in the WEC and GT Le Mans in IMSA with two separate teams, both running under the Chip Ganassi banner. The two teams came together at Le Mans to post one of the most impressive results of any Ford-backed racing outfit in recent history.
Outside of the glory of being attached to motor racing, Ford is also capitalizing on the competitive landscape of the racing scene and using it as a platform to develop technologies that can be applied to its production lineup. A lot of automakers who venture the route of racing admit to that being a big part of their commitment. Ford is only doing the same, especially now when the Blue Oval is gearing up for advancements in its EcoBoost engines, as well as improvements in aerodynamics and lightweight materials that can be directly translated into production vehicles in the future.
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Why it matters
There’s nothing like the sweet taste of victory and success to boost the confidence, is there? I have no doubt in my mind that Ford’s impressive performance at the 24 Hours of Le Mans played a huge part in this decision, and quite frankly, I can’t blame the company for taking this step.
On the racing front, Ford is going all-in on the program because it knows that the cars can be competitive and it can set itself up as a threat to all the other teams in the WEC and the IMSA. There’s a point of pride in this equation that can’t be denied. If the Ford GT didn’t have the result it had in Le Mans, who knows if Ford would have extended its racing program. But not only was it successful, it was flat out dominant and that was all the incentive Ford needed from a racing perspective to continue building on its racing program. Not only does this extension send a message to the industry that Ford is committed to global racing, but it also ties up well to what it does to its production lineup.
On that front, this extension could be a game-changing equation on how the American automaker proceeds with the development of its production cars. Automakers traditionally see motor racing as a way to foster that development and it’s no different with Ford. Like everybody else, Ford’s plan is to use its racing effort to improve its products and while that in itself poses some challenges moving forward, the company can be confident in itself by knowing that it has the chops and the car to be successful in both fronts.
Something will come out of this for Ford, especially when it comes to future technology. The only question is what that’s going to be. Fortunately, the company and its fans have a few more years to look forward to in order to find what kind of benefits it can unlock for its future lineup.
Good move, Ford.
Read our full review on the Ford GT Le Mans here.