Ford Motor Co. is only promising some “significant performance news” will be announced in Cologne, Germany today. But based on a variety of hints the maker has been dropping, the betting is that it will announce plans to return to Le Mans in the near future, all but certainly to race the reborn Ford GT.
Rumors of a new Le Mans program began to surface even before Ford revealed the latest take on the ultracar at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit last January. Company officials then suggested they might have additional plans for the GT.
The announcement will come just a day before the 2015 Le Mans race gets the green flag. If Ford were to put the GT back on the track in 2016 it would be more than just a coincidence. That would mark the 50th anniversary of the maker’s stunning victory at Le Mans with its original GT40 Mk II
That victory capped a very personal feud between Henry Ford II and Enzo Ferrari. The GT40s captured the three top spots during that year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans.
(Ford launching new Sync 3 system this summer. Click Here for the story.)
To underscore the significance of today’s announcement, Ford noted that three of its top global executives will be on hand in Cologne: Chairman William Clay Ford Jr., CEO Mark Fields, and global product development chief Raj Nair.
Precisely what Ford has in store will be announced today. The rumor mill indicates the maker is planning to put two cars on the track next year. It appears likely it would partner with Chip Ganassi Racing, which already handles the Prototype class for Ford here in the U.S.
How much the production GT will be modified also remains to be seen. The street car was the unexpected hit of the Detroit Auto Show, and was meant to serve as “a showcase where we can highlight all that technology and innovation in a dramatic way,” Ford CEO Mark Fields told TheDetroitBureau.com following the ultracar’s debut.
One of the more surprising details of the new GT project is the speed with which it is coming together. The program was launched barely a year before its Motor City debut, but the first of the new supercars will hit the street, according to Fields, “next year.”
While final details are still under development, the next Ford GT will feature a full carbon fiber body, though it is unclear precisely mix of materials will be used for the underlying platform.
he vehicle will be powered by a tuned version of Ford’s 3.5-liter twin-turbo EcoBoost V-6. It is expected to make “600-plus” horsepower. Torque has not yet been determined. Based on the pace of improvements in the broader supercar community, it is likely that the GT would be able to launch from 0 to 60 in around three seconds, and would almost certainly reach or near a top speed of 200 mph.
It will need to go even faster if Ford hopes to repeat its past glories on the Le Mans circuit.
(Click Here to check out the debut of the Ford GT.)
Tags: 24 hours of le mans, Bill Ford, Mark Fields, auto news, car news, ford gt, ford gt le mans, ford gt racing, ford le mans, ford news, ford racing, paul a. eisenstein, paul eisenstein, raj nair, thedetroitbureau