Next week’s 24 Hours of Le Mans is a big one for Ford. It marks the 50th anniversary of the Blue Oval’s storied victory over Ferrari at the French endurance race, and Ford hopes to make a big splash this year with its new GT. It’s a racing version of the road-going supercar inspired by the GT40 that won Le Mans back in 1966. So yeah, no pressure.
Before the GT takes the green flag at Le Mans a week from Saturday, though, drivers all around the world will get to see what it’s like. That’s because Ford is releasing the GT race car as a free download in Forza Motorsport 6. Starting today, codes for the download are being sent to the inboxes of players on Xbox Live. Ford notes that it may take a few days to send out all of the codes.
It’s not surprising that Ford would use Forza to promote it’s upcoming Le Mans assault. The GT road car is already the cover car for the game and available for players to use, despite the fact that Ford no one outside Ford has driven the real thing. The company is currently vetting potential GT customers, and only plans on building 250 cars per year.
The GT race car is equally fresh. This marks its first season of competition, and conventional wisdom holds that any race win, let alone the grueling and hyper-competitive 24 Hours of Le Mans, should be out of reach for a newbie team. The original GT40 didn’t win on Ford’s first attempt, after all. The GT is racing on both sides of the Atlantic, including the U.S.-based IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, and the European FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC).
For Le Mans, the two teams will unite for a four-car shot at glory. The two WEC cars will keep numbers 66 and 67, while the two IMSA cars (which also race as numbers 66 and 67 in the U.S.) will be numbered 68 and 69. The numbers signify the original Ford GT40’s four straight Le Mans victories at the tail end of the 1960s.
The GT40 was able to claim overall wins, but today’s GT can only hope for a class win in the category for production cars; it doesn’t have the speed to compete with the top-level hybrid prototypes from Audi, Porsche, and Toyota. A victory of any kind will be quite a challenge, though, and with so many eyes on Ford a defeat could be quite embarrassing.