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Ford GT to race internationally in 2016

Off the cards: Ford’s GT enduro racer will not be eligible for local events such as the Bathurst 12 Hour.

Aussie-designed Ford GT will return to Le Mans via World Endurance Championship

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Ford logo15 Jun 2015

FORD’s limited-edition GT sportscar will form the basis of the company’s return to endurance racing in 2016, although it will not be eligible to race in Australia.

The Blue Oval showed off its GT-based contender during last weekend’s 24 Hours of Le Mans, with Ford executive chair Bill Ford Jr recalling the moment the company finished swept in the 1966 event with the GT40, beating Ferrari in the process.

“I'd never saw a more thrilling thing in my life than the Fords winning 1,2,3,” Mr Ford told journalists. “There was nothing that left a bigger impression on me than that moment. I'm very proud of our past, and I'm also much more interested in what happens next.” Launched with much fanfare at the Detroit motor show in January, the two-seater GT was designed by Tasmanian-born, Melbourne-based Todd Willing. Using a race-proven 3.5-litre twin-turbo V6 petrol engine pumping out 447kW, the carbon-bodied left-hand-drive-only GT is set to cost in excess of US$400,000 ($A518,000), and sales will be limited to just 250 examples a year.

While Ford Australia is set to pull its factory backing from the local V8 Supercar championship at the end of 2016 – it has been actively winding down its involvement in the category over a period of several years – it has previously indicated that it would participate in motorsport activities as part of a global performance program, if required.

Ford currently races in the World Rally Championship with M-Sport, the FIA-sanctioned Global Rallycross Championship and supplies engines to several Tudor teams in the US. Locally, it will back Prodrive Racing’s V8 Supercar efforts until the end of the 2016 season.

The GT will race in the United States-based Tudor United Sports Car Series and the FIA (Federation Internationale De L'Automobile) sanctioned World Endurance Championship. A two-car team run by the renowned Chip Ganassi Racing outfit will challenge other factory-backed teams from Chevrolet, Aston Martin and Porsche, while Ferrari is expected to announce a factory-backed GTE racing effort for its forthcoming 488 GTB twin-turbo V8-powered car.

The GT will be entered in the GTE (Grand Touring Endurance) Pro class, designed for a “car having an aptitude for sport with two doors, two or 2+2 seats, opened or closed, which can be used perfectly legally on the open road and available for sale thanks to the dealer network of a manufacturer recognised by the Endurance Committee,” according to the FIA.

A Chevrolet Corvette C7R won the GTE Pro class at Le Mans on the weekend.

GTE cars are not currently eligible to race in any touring car class in Australian motorsport. Lower-spec GT3 cars from marques including Bentley, Audi, Lamborghini and McLaren are able to run in the Australian GT Championship, and at events such as the Bathurst 12-Hour.

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