The Ford GT returns to the race-track with a turbocharged V-6

The 2017 Ford GT debuted with a bang at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show, marking the Blue Oval’s return to the supercar world after nearly a decade. Developed as a spiritual successor to both the 2005-2006 Ford GT and the iconic 1964-1969 Ford GT40 race car of the 1960s, the new GT also spawned an endurance racer set to hit the track in 2016.

Developed together with Multimatic Motorsports, Roush Yates Engines, Michelin, Brembo and CGRFS, the GT race car will make its track debut in the 2016 Rolex 24 at Daytona before running the full schedules of both the FIA World Endurance Championship and the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship. More importantly, it will mark Ford’s return to Le Mans exactly 50 years after the GT40 scored its famous 1-2-3 finish in 1966. Unlike its ancestor though, the new GT will compete in the LM GTE Pro class.

Development of the GT racing program began back in 2013, when Ford teamed up with Chip Ganassi Racing, which will also run the cars in the 2016 racing season. Having already won 17 major championships, including races at the Indy 500, 24 Hours of Daytona, and Sebring, Chip Ganassi aims to add the 24 Hours of Le Mans to his trophy room.

“We believe the Ford GT’s advances in aerodynamics, light-weighting (sic) and EcoBoost power will make for a compelling race car that can once again compete on a global stage," said FoMoCo chief technical officer Raj Nair.

Updated 06/20/2016: Ford dropped the fifth episode of its "The Return." This new episode focuses on the GT’s road to the 2016 Le Mans 24 Hours.

Click Continue Reading to learn more about the Ford GT Le Mans race car.

  • 2016 Ford GT Le Mans
  • Year:
    2016
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • 0-60 time:
    3 sec. (Est.)
  • Top Speed:
    200 mph (Est.)
  • car segment:
  • body style:

Exterior

2016 Ford GT Le Mans High Resolution Exterior
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2016 Ford GT Le Mans High Resolution Exterior
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2016 Ford GT Le Mans High Resolution Exterior
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Although it remains highly recognizable as a GT in racing apparel, the race car features extensive body modifications, primarily developed for maximum downforce and minimum drag. The front end seems to have been redesigned from the ground up, as the trapezoidal grille and the vented hood are the only features that still resembles the road-going GT’s.

The front end seems to have been redesigned from the ground up, as the trapezoidal grille and the vented hood are the only features that still resembles the road-going GT's.

The bumper is less intricate as far as styling goes and sports a massive splitter, as well as a pair of canards on each side. The headlamps are all-new and shaped slightly different than the standard car’s. There are no LED strips and the plastic caps are bolted onto the body with tiny rivets, just like the original GT40 had.

For the sides, Ford kept the GT’s overall shape, but replaced the standard side skirts with larger ones that now incorporate exhaust outlets toward the rear wheels. Speaking of the wheels, the race car rides on race-spec, ultra-lightweight rims wrapped in super-grippy Michelin tires.

There are plenty of changes to talk about around back as well. While the main fascia and the taillights remained mostly unaltered, everything above and below is different. The GT’s flat spoiler has been replaced by a huge wing, while the rear bumper has been cut off from the body to make room for a wide diffuser. Needless to say, the GT’s rear end is by far the most aggressive of any LM GTE cars.

Last, there’s the very American red, white, and blue livery, complete with sponsor decals and "24 Hours of Le Mans" racing number stickers. There’s no word on whether this livery is only a Le Mans special or the one the Ford GT will be using in all championships in 2016. Unfortunately for GT40 enthusiasts, this livery has nothing to do with the original race car, as it seems to have been inspired by prototype racers Chip Ganassi used in the U.S. in recent years.

Interior

2017 Ford GT High Resolution Interior
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Note: 2017 Ford GT Concept interior shown.

The interior of the GT concept showcased in Detroit is definitely way too loaded and crowded for a race car. Expect everything from the main dash section, the door panels and the center console to disappear, replaced by an array of racing gear, including acres of carbon-fiber and numerous buttons and switches. A multifunction, racing steering wheel will reside in front of a much simpler instrument cluster. You also need to forget about the two-tone sports seats, which will be ditched in favor of Alcantara-wrapped, carbon-fiber racing seats with six-point harnesses. A full roll cage will help the GT comply with the FIA’s latest safety requirements.

Drivetrain

2016 Ford GT Le Mans High Resolution Exterior
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As expect, Ford confirmed the GT race car will employ the same 3.5-liter, EcoBoost V-6 already used its IMSA Daytona Prototype endurance racer with promising results in 2014. Of course, Ford will throw in a pile of race-bred enhancements in its mission to achieve a perfect balance of power and reliability, the latter being crucial in races such as the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

I expect the V-6 to crank out in excess of 500 ponies, but not necessarily more than the unit found in the production car. It all depends on the final weight of the racer (Ford says it’s significantly lighter than the road-going car), as well as the aerodynamic coefficient and the downforce provided by the new body kit. One thing’s certain though, the GT will be among the most powerful cars of the GTE category.

The yet-unknown amount of power will be routed to the rear wheels through a seven-speed, dual-clutch transaxle. The combo will enable the GT to reach top speeds in excess of 200 mph, while accelerating from 0 to 60 mph in less than three seconds.

Competition

Ferrari 458 Italia GT2

2011 Ferrari 458 Italia GT2 High Resolution Exterior
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The Ford GT Le Mans car will encounter many great race cars in the LM GTE category, but, as of 2015, the Ferari 458 Italia GT2 is the car to beat in this class. Based on the awesome 458 Italia, the GT2 uses many aerodynamic enhancements specific to the class it competes in and takes on the track with the same naturally aspirated, 4.5-liter V-8 engine. The mid-mounted mill churns out nearly 500 horsepower, which helped it win several events since its introduction in 2011.

So far, the Italia GT2 won the 2012 and 2014 24 Hours of Le Mans and the 2012 12 Hours of Sebring in the GTE Pro class, as well as two editions of the Petit Le Mans. The Italian racer also took several manufacturer and team titles in its class, including the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup, the Le Mans Series, the International GT Open, the FIA World Endurance Championship, and the European Le Mans Series.

Find out more about the Ferrari 458 Italia GT2 in our review here.

Chevrolet Corvette C7.R

2014 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R High Resolution Exterior
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Introduced at the 2014 Detroit Auto Show, the Corvette C7.R is GM’s latest and most spectacular endurance racer. Developed alongside the road-going 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 to replace the race-winning C6.R, the C7.R borrows most of its design cues from the C7-generation ’Vette, while making use of an updated, 5.5-liter V-8 engine. The standard output sits at around 500 horsepower, but the C7.R’s mill can be easily tweaked to develop close to 1,000 ponies.

The new race car made its debut on the track in early 2014 and raced a full season in the United SportsCar Championship. The two cars fielded by Corvette Racing scored four wins and one additional podium in the GTLM class, finishing the season in second place behind the Viper-powered SRT Motorsport team. In the manufacturers’ championship, Chevrolet only managed a third position, behind Porsche and Dodge, but above BMW and Ferrari. At the 2014 24 Hours of Le Mans, Corvette took 16th place overall and second place in the LM GTE Pro class.

With Dodge having axed SRT’s Viper racing program, the Corvette C7.R will remain the only factory-backed American racer in the LM GTE Pro class at Le Mans in 2015, before the Ford GT joins the fun in 2016.

Read more about the Chevrolet Corvette C7.R in our detailed review here.

Conclusion

2016 Ford GT Le Mans High Resolution Exterior Wallpaper quality
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Ford’s return to Le Mans was arguably the biggest motorsport-related news of 2014, and the prospect of seeing a brand-new GT storm the Circuit de la Sarthe made things even more exciting. Now that it’s been confirmed Ford has indeed resurrected its factory racing program, it’s safe to say that the GT40 legacy is about to receive a new chapter. It remains to be seen whether the new GT will live up to its predecessor’s glory, but it should at least put up a good fight.

  • Leave it
    • * No official specs yet
    • * Ford’s V-8 will be missed

Updated History

Update 06/17/2016: The Ford GT LeMans took its shot at qualifying this week and performed fantastically, with Dirk Muller in the No. 68 car posting the fastest lap time in the LM GTE Pro category. The No. 68 car will start out at pole position at the 24 Hours of Le Mans this Saturday, next to the No. 68 Ford GT and ahead of the No. 67 and No. 66 Ford GT models that qualified fourth and fifth earlier this week. To go with this amazing qualifying performance, Ford as released a special video for its employees around the world. Click on the play button above to see the video and celebrate the return of the Ford GT to LeMans.

Updated 06/16/2016: Ford dropped the fourth episode of its "The Return" documentary. In this episode the company highlights the bond between man and machine. Click "Play" to watch it!

Updated 06/06/2016: Ford dropped a new video showing the new GT Le Mans in action at the most epic of endurance races, the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Hit "play" to watch it!

Updated 05/16/2016: Ford dropped a new episode of its new "Ford GT Documentary." The third episode called "Let’s race" presents racing scenes at the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway. Hit "play" to watch it!

Updated 05/05/2016: This past weekend Ford GT scored its first win at Laguna Seca (Salinas, Calif.). Now Ford dropped a very cool video featuring race footage, victory lane celebration and interviews with drivers Richard Westbrook and Ryan Briscoe. Hit "Play" to watch it!

Updated 03/21/2016: Ford announced it will launch a series of new video for its latest GT supercar called "Ford GT Documentary." The video will be about the 50th anniversary of the GT’s legendary win at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1966. The first episode called "The Return" features Bill Ford, Raj Nair, Dave Pericak and Edsel B. Ford II, who attended the 1966 race with his father Henry Ford II. Hit "play" to watch it!

Updated 01/26/2016: Ford dropped a new video showing the new GT Le Mans car making its final preparation session before its global racing debut at the Rolex 24 At Daytona (IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship).

Updated 01/05/2016: Ford Performance dropped a new video in which it highlights drivers lineup for the 2016 FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC). Marino Franchitti, Stefan Mücke, Olivier Pla and Andy Priaulx will all get behind the wheel of the brand new GT and will try to win the title for Ford Chip Ganassi Racing. Hit "play" to watch what do they have to say about the upcoming competition.

Updated 11/23/2015: Ford Performance dropped a new video in which it presents drivers lineup for the 2016 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. The list includes: Joey Hand (United States), Dirk Müller (Germany), Richard Westbrook (United Kingdom) and Drivers Ryan Briscoe (Australia).

Updated 10/08/2015: Ford Performance dropped a new video showing its latest GT race car in action at Daytona race track. While the video is only 50 seconds long, you will have the chance to hear the amazing sound developed by the GT’s new engine: a 3.5-liter, EcoBoost V-6.

Updated 10/05/2015: Ford Performance dropped a new video in which it focuses on the development of its latest GT race car. You will get to see footage of the Ford GT’s twin-turbo 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 engine on the dynamometer in Dearborn, Mich., footage from its first test at Sebring and much more.

Update 09/21/2015: Ford announced that its new GT Le Mans racer will make a first European race debut at the 2016 FIA World Endurance Championship at Silverstone in the U.K. in April. The company will enter two race cars in the GT-Endurance Pro Class, with the drivers to be announced at a later date.

Updated 09/01/2015: The race version of the new Ford GT was caught testing at Sebring International Raceway. It looks like the car is under extreme preparation for the 2016 FIA WEC and IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship seasons.

Updated 07/30/2015: Ford dropped a new video that offers an exclusive look at the Ford GT race car’s first shakedown test. Enjoy!

Updated 05/14/2015: A new report on the future GT race car indicates that the model could be unveiled in June, just a few days before the 83rd running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The model should deliver at least 700 horsepower, making it much more powerful than everyone expected.

Rendering

2016 Ford GT Le Mans High Resolution Exterior Exclusive Renderings
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Press Release

Ford announced today it is returning to one of the most prestigious automobile races in the world with its new Ford GT race car, based on the all-new ultra-high-performance supercar that goes on sale next year.

2016 Ford GT Le Mans High Resolution Exterior
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The Ford GT race car will compete in the 24 Hours of Le Mans – referred to by many as the Grand Prix of Endurance and Efficiency – starting next year. Revealed today at the famous circuit in Le Mans, France, Ford GT will compete in the Le Mans GT Endurance class for professional teams and drivers (LM GTE Pro).

The new race car – a further proof point of Ford innovation – is based on the all-new Ford GT supercar unveiled in January. Both the production car and race car will arrive in 2016 to mark the 50th anniversary of Ford GT race cars placing 1-2-3 at the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans. Ford went on to repeat its victory at Le Mans in 1967, 1968 and 1969.

“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,” said Bill Ford, executive chairman, Ford Motor Company. “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.”

2016 Ford GT Le Mans High Resolution Exterior
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The new Ford GT race car will run the full 2016 schedules of the FIA World Endurance Championship and TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, making its competition debut in January 2016 in the Rolex 24 At Daytona, Florida. The two Ford teams will be operated by Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates (CGRFS). Both series teams intend to compete with a four-car effort at Le Mans. Drivers will be announced later.

The all-new Ford GT serves as the pinnacle product of the new Ford Performance group, a division dedicated to providing innovation through performance.

Set to deliver more than 12 new performance vehicles by 2020, Ford Performance will leverage its racing efforts and expertise to speed innovations on dedicated performance models and performance parts in order to more quickly iterate the latest technologies that can ultimately be applied to the full Ford vehicle lineup.

2016 Ford GT Le Mans High Resolution Exterior
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The performance segment is a growing business for Ford, as the company recognizes its customers’ desire for vehicles that offer excellent fuel economy, leading technology and a great driving experience. The Ford Performance lineup includes Ford GT, Focus RS, F-150 Raptor, Shelby GT350 and Shelby GT350R, Focus ST and Fiesta ST.

“Ford remains focused on three priorities globally – accelerating our One Ford plan, delivering product excellence with passion and driving innovation in every part of our business,” said Mark Fields, Ford Motor Company president and CEO. “All three came together to create the new Ford GT. We also know from our rich history in motorsports that world-class competition is a great incubator for even further product innovation.”

The Ford GT race car features a number of innovations Ford believes will not only make it competitive in LM GTE Pro, but ultimately positioned to provide benefits to each vehicle in the Ford lineup. These include state-of-the-art aerodynamics to deliver outstanding levels of downforce for improved stability with minimal drag, advanced lightweight composites featuring carbon fiber for an exceptionally rigid but light chassis, and the power and efficiency of EcoBoost technology.

2016 Ford GT Le Mans High Resolution Exterior
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“As we developed the Ford GT, from the outset, we wanted to ensure we had a car that has what it takes to return Ford to the world of GT racing,” said Raj Nair, Ford Motor Company group vice president, Global Product Development and chief technical officer. “We believe the Ford GT’s advances in aerodynamics, light-weighting and EcoBoost power will make for a compelling race car that can once again compete on a global stage.”

Joining Ford in this project are Multimatic Motorsports, Roush Yates Engines, Castrol, Michelin, Forza Motorsport, Sparco, Brembo and CGRFS. The race car has undergone extensive design and testing within Ford and Multimatic, with CGRFS providing input into the development. Roush Yates is supporting development of the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 – the most powerful EcoBoost production engine ever.

The 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 engine debuted in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship in 2014. Since then, Ford, with CGRFS, has captured significant overall wins at the 12 Hours of Sebring and Rolex 24 At Daytona. Besides great success in sports cars, Ganassi race teams achieved major victories in the Daytona 500, Brickyard 400 and Indianapolis 500.

“We’ve won races and championships, but we’ve never run Le Mans,” said team owner Chip Ganassi. “When presented the opportunity to compete with the all-new Ford GT on the world’s biggest sports car stage, and on the 50th anniversary of one of the most storied victories in racing history, how could any race team not want to be part of that? Will it be a challenge? Absolutely, but we couldn’t be with a better partner than Ford.”

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