It’s safe to say that the Ford GT is one of the most highly anticipated cars of 2016. Featuring a mid-mounted, twin-turbo 3.5-litre V6 EcoBoost engine, cutting edge aerodynamics and a full carbon tub, Ford’s supercar has already racked up 5000 orders in less than a week.
A great deal of this excitement is down to the fact that the road car is effectively the same specification as the race car. Taking a unique approach to supercar development, Ford has decided to focus on its track machines first; fielding two cars in the IMSA series in the USA and a further two in the 2016 WEC GTE category. Therefore the lessons learned on track will be applied - where applicable - to the production machine.
We spoke to Dave Pericak, director of Ford Performance at the opening round of the World Endurance Championship at Silverstone, who confirmed:
“We haven’t built production versions of the GT road car yet, so we can still make changes to the final set-up. Anything we learn at this first round will be considered for the road car. It’s important to remember that the two cars have been developed side-by-side from the offset.”
Having now had the opportunity to examine both cars in the flesh - at Geneva and Silverstone - the similarities are clear to see. The carbon tub is common to both cars, the bodywork is very close in overall design (NACA ducts on the bonnet being the biggest difference) and the suspension geometry is effectively the same.
When speaking to one of Ford’s factory drivers Billy Johnson - a driver heavily involved in the development of both machines - he informed us that “there are a lot more similarities than you would usually find between a road and a race car. The cars are so close that there are marks for where racing parts would attach still visible on the road car. As you walk down the production line you could literally pick any tub and use it for an endurance spec machine”. Make no mistake, Ford can legitimately call the GT a ‘race-bred machine’.
The two WEC GTs, No. 67 and No. 66, finished in fourth and fifth respectively in their endurance debut; a “positive start to the FIA World Endurance Championship” as Ford put it. But the main focus for the team is the return to Le Mans, 50 years after the marque’s legendary 1966 24 Hours victory. The plan is to embarrass Ferrari once again; we just hope the road car can do the same.