The Ford Motor Company [NYSE:F] recently started public road trials of its new GT supercar which is expected to sail into showrooms late next year, as a 2017 model. However, Ford is also thought to be preparing a racing version that we previously reported will contest both the United SportsCar Championship and the World Endurance Championship in the respective GTLM and GTE classes designed for production-based cars.
While the Ford GT isn’t expected to start racing until the 2016 motorsport season, to coincide with a simplified GT racing format being introduced for major competitions including the USCC and WEC, we may get our first look at the racing version of the supercar as early as next month’s 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The information comes from Motorsport, which also reports that an initial shakedown test of the new race car took place earlier this month at the Calabogie Motorsports Park in Ontario, with Scott Maxwell of race car constructor Multimatic Motorsports the first to drive it. Multimatic is working closely with Ford on a number of its motorsport projects, including the new GT race car.
The specifications of the GT race car will be similar to the road-going version. Power is expected to come from a 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine similar to the one in the Riley-Ford Daytona Prototype that won this year’s Daytona 24 Hours. This engine will be paired with a new Ricardo-designed and built gearbox and spin the rear wheels only.
This year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans takes place the weekend starting June 13. Interestingly, Ford may not be the only automaker announcing a Le Mans return. McLaren, which this year is celebrating the 20th anniversary of its outright Le Mans win using the F1 GTR, is rumored to be announcing its own Le Mans return with a race car based on its 650S supercar. Like Ford, McLaren would compete in the production-based GTE category, going up against the likes of Aston Martin, Chevrolet, Ferrari and Porsche.