Is Ford planning a return to Le Mans?
The famed Ford GT40 is an American icon, with its radical Mk IV housing a 7.0-liter, 485-horsepower FE V8 connected to a four-speed transmission. It weighed just over 2,400 pounds, so it was a force to be reckoned with on the racetrack.
So much, in fact, that Ford Racing used it to take on Ferrari at Le Mans in the 1960s … and win.
Despite going up against an Italian team sporting seven 24 hours of Le Mans victories in eight tries, Ford’s GT40 wrestled the title from Ferrari in 1966. The Carol Shelby-managed coupe took 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place its first time out, and continued its podium dominance for the next three years straight.
The GT40 was brilliant, and it may have pushed the American racing to team to glory nearly 50 years ago, but it was also Ford Racing’s last real Le Mans competitor. In 1970, Porsche’s flat-twelve-powered 917 rendered the GT obsolete.
Ford’s GT40 successor, the GT, has tried to live up to its predecessor in recent years, but with bitter results. The Blue Oval still hasn’t tasted a Le Mans victory since 1969.
A report by Racer suggests that Ford is looking to make a comeback in France, this time with a twin-turbo Ecoboost-powered P2.
The V6-powered P2 wouldn’t qualify for the top-flight LMP1 class, but it would compete with Japanese teams like Honda and Nissan in the LMP2 prototype division. The car hasn’t been built yet, but a Roush-powered P2 took an overall win at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring in March, so there is potential there.
If Ford does make the decision to return, the American company will do so alongside McLaren, another company who enjoyed a brief glimpse of glory at Le Mans. The British sports car maker dominated the race in 1995, taking 1st, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 13th place with the BMW-engineered F1 GTR. McLaren expects to return to Le Mans with the 650S GT3 by 2016.
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