Ford is making a dramatic, highly-anticipated return to competitive motorsports – with a vehicle that's commanding just as much attention. The performance car set to take on global racing giants is the new Ford GT. It is the most appropriate model to perform at international circuits and revive the manufacturer's motorsports heritage. In the latest GT, all expectations are met and then easily exceeded.
The new incarnation of the car draws heavily from the icon that is the original Ford GT40. It started as simply the GT, and took the name '40' from the first design's 40-inch body height. The GT40 was a pioneering car for Ford, with incredible performance that is just as admired today.
Restoration work on a first edition GT40 has been in the news already this year. The specific car being restored is the one which won at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1966 – Ford's triumph. That endurance race was where Henry Ford demonstrated how his models could outpace rival Ferrari cars. The GT40 went on to win at Le Mans in four consecutive years.
Ford announced a return to endurance racing and the GT's comeback in 2015. A reveal of the model during the Detroit Motor Show that year gave us an idea of how the race-ready car would look.
Bringing the GT back for the 2016 season is a calculated move by Ford. This year marks a half-century since the GT40's scene-stealing Le Mans triumph. As well as commemorating the achievement, Ford is aiming to replicate the success of the 1960s GT40 with a win at Le Mans with the new model.
It looks the part, with sweeping gullwing doors and a dynamic, innovative shape. Precise streamlining informs every curve and sculpted panel. The GT naturally also features an athletic rear spoiler and large air intakes. When it arrives on the circuit, it will be completed with sponsor decals and Ford's racing livery.
There will be more than one GT entering this year's FIA World Endurance Championship. This ensures that Ford will have a strong showing at the crucial Le Mans race. The French leg of the season is a highlight for racing fans, and could be the event that defines the championship.
To ably pilot the GT models, Ford has added four drivers to the roster. Marino Francitti, Andy Priaulx, Olivier Pla and Stefan Mücke are all established and successful racing drivers. Together they form Ford's UK team.
At the heart of the car is a stunning 3.5-litre V6 engine with Ford's EcoBoost technology. While the capacity is smaller than the GT40's 4.7-litre engine, a lightweight and efficient build keeps the GT agile. This further helps the GT to cover more miles in between pit stops, giving Ford an advantage during the 24-hour race.
Those who want to see the Ford GT in action should buy tickets now or check their television schedule. The 24 Hours of Le Mans will include qualifying and be held on June 5, 18 and 19, 2016. In the GTE class, the UK and US Ford teams will enter four GT cars.
As yet, UK drivers are not able to apply to own the Ford GT, but the manufacturer does have plans to build a road-legal version in limited batches of just 250 each year. Check back for updates on the GT and the application procedure.
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