Every great story has to come to an end eventually. Ford’s class win at the 2016 24 Hours of Le Mans with its GT supercar was worthy of a Hollywood blockbuster, but Ford is now ready to retire from the legendary French race. The 2019 24 Hours of Le Mans will be the last for the GT, the automaker confirmed.
The Ford GT was developed with one goal: To win the GTE Pro class at the 24 Hours of Le Mans on the 50th anniversary of Ford’s 1966 overall victory over Ferrari — one of the greatest upsets in racing history. Taking some inspiration from the car that won those races, the GT40, but featuring thoroughly modern aerodynamics, lightweight construction, and a 3.5-liter twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V6 engine, the GT won Le Mans on its first attempt in 2016. GTE Pro is the top Le Mans class for cars based on road-legal models, so Ford went on to build GTs for customers boasting 647 horsepower and prices well into the six-figure range.
Ford’s decision to cancel the Le Mans program after the 2019 race is fitting, as this year marks the 50th anniversary of the last of the original GT40’s wins. While Ford was able to win four times in a row between 1966 and 1969, its modern Le Mans program hasn’t been as successful. The GT hasn’t won at Le Mans since 2016, although it has won other races. A 2019 class victory would allow the race program to end on a high note.
The GT will bow out with retro liveries celebrating Ford’s history at Le Mans, something the automaker previously did with Heritage Edition versions of the GT road car. The No. 66 car will wear a black livery based on the 1966 Le Mans-winning GT40, while the No. 69 car’s livery will be based on the car that came second that year. The No. 67 GT will wear the colors of the 1967 Le Mans winner, and the No. 68 car will wear the red, white, and blue livery from the GT’s 2016 class win. A fifth, privately entered GT will wear the orange and purple colors of the team’s main sponsor, Wynn’s.
The 2019 24 Hours of Le Mans takes place June 15-16. After that, the GT will continue to race in the United States in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship through the end of the 2019 season, but after that, the race program’s future is uncertain, according to Racer. This may be the end of the road for the GT, but it doesn’t mean Ford is done with Le Mans for good. In its press release announcing the end of the current Le Mans program, Ford made a point of using the French phrase “au revoir,” which translates to “until we meet again.”
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