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Ford’s GT prepares for battle all around the world

The Ford GT may be a supercar designed for the road, but it’s inspired by one of the greatest race cars of all time. The original GT40 won Ford glory at Le Mans in 1966, and 50 years later, the Blue Oval is looking for another taste.

Racing was assumed to be a part of the plan even before the next-generation Ford GT was unveiled at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show. Ford unveiled a racing version at the 2015 24 Hours of Le Mans, and confirmed plans to return to the historic race next year. The car will also run a full racing schedule in both the U.S. and abroad next season.

Ford just confirmed that the GT will make its first on-track appearance in preseason testing for the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) at Circuit Paul Ricard in France March 25. Its race debut will be at the WEC season opener at Silverstone April 17. Following an event at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit in Belgium, the GT will make its way to Le Mans June 18.

Unlike the GT40, though, the GT will not be in contention for the overall win. Instead, it will race in the GTE-Pro class, the top class for production-based cars. That means the Ford will be significantly off the pace of the hybrid prototypes from Audi, Nissan, Porsche, and Toyota, but will still get to mix it up with Chevrolet Corvettes, Aston Martin Vantages, and the GT40’s old nemesis, Ferrari.

Ford is aiming for a class win at Le Mans to celebrate the 50th anniversary of its victory over Ferrari, the end result of a legendary feud between Henry Ford II and Enzo Ferrari. From there, the GT will complete the WEC calendar with races in Germany (at the Nürburgring), Mexico, at Austin, Texas’, Circuit of the Americas, and in Japan, China, and Bahrain.

But the GT will also spend plenty of time on home turf. It will race in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship (formerly the Tudor United SportsCar Championship), beginning with the Daytona 24 Hours January 30, and covering 11 other races across the country and Canada.

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