Le Mans Déjà Vu: Ford versus Ferrari
by John Gilbert, November 12, 2015
It was the first time an American car won Le Mans, and when the Ford GT 40 won it did it in a grand 1-2-3 sweep. That was 1966, and fifty years later once again Ford is throwing its helmet into the ring. And to make the 2016 running of Le Mans even more exciting for Ford fans the all-new Ferrari 488 GTLM will be competing in Le Mans GT Endurance Class.
Based on its all-new ultra-high-performance supercar Ford is returning to one of the most prestigious automobile endurance races in the world with its new Ford GT racecar, that enters showrooms next year. The Ford GT racecar will compete in the LM GTE Pro class of the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race in June 2016, and will run the full 2016 schedules of the FIA World Endurance Championship and TUDOR United Sports Car Championship.
The Ford GT teams will be operated by Chip Ganassi Racing, with Felix Sabates. Joining Ford in this project are Multimatic Motorsports, Roush Yates engines, Castrol oil, Michelin tires, Forza Motorsport, Sparco, and Brembo brakes.
Roush Yates is supporting development of the 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6. The 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 engine debuted in the TUDOR United Sports Car Championship in 2014. Since then, Ford, with CGRFS, has captured significant overall wins at the 12 Hours of Sebring and Rolex 24 At Daytona. Besides great success in sports cars, Ganassi race teams achieved major victories in the Daytona 500, Brickyard 400 and Indianapolis 500.
Team owner Chip Ganassi, said, “we’ve won races and championships, but we’ve never run Le Mans. When presented the opportunity to compete with the all-new Ford GT on the world’s biggest sports car stage, and on the 50th anniversary of one of the most storied victories in racing history, how could any race team not want to be part of that? Will it be a challenge? Absolutely, but we couldn’t be with a better partner than Ford.”
It’s interesting to note how much influence people can have on the future of racing and the automobile industry in general. In the same vein of Enzo Ferrari angered former loyal Ferrari customer Ferruccio Lamborghini enough to produce his own automobile, so went the battle with Enzo and Henry Ford II.
The year was 1963 and the Ford Motor Company was in the final stages of buying Ferrari, but Enzo demanded maintaining full control over Ferrari’s racing division. When FoMoCo refused Enzo backed out completely, and infuriated Henry Ford II to the point he wanted to embarrass Ferrari in European endurance racing. Not an easy task since Ferrari dominated Le Mans from 1960 until 1965. Ford’s 1966 1-2-3 sweep at Le Mans marked the beginning of the Ford GT’s four year reign at Le Mans.
Featured in the photo below is the new Ferrari 488 GTE car powered by a twin-turbo 3.9-litre V8 engine.
War Is On! Ford Versus Ferrari in 2016 Le Mans GT Endurance Class Photo & Image Gallery