Ford arrived at the 2016 24 Hours of Le Mans with one mission: to do right by the brand's historic 1-2-3 finish at the race in 1966. Ford was indeed successful and placed first, third, and fourth in the GTE-Pro class. This year is shaping up differently, however.
After Sunday's Le Man's test day, the Ford GTs are currently at the back of the pack versus the Blue Oval's main rivals thanks to "balance of performance" adjustments, or BoP. The GTs were behind the Corvette C7.Rs, Porsche's 911 RSRs, and even the Aston Martin Vantages, and that could spell trouble ahead of race day. The fastest lap clocked by a GT at Le Mans thus far is 3:57.536. While that is 6 seconds slower than last year's pole time, it's less than 3 seconds slower than the 3:54.701 time set by the class leader, a C7.R.
The BoP ensures no team has an unfair advantage and allows teams to build their own cars. Weight ballasts and power restrictions are examples of changes made in the name of balance of performance. The Ford GTs were slapped with an additional 44 pounds and reduced boost pressure specifically for the 2017 24 Hours of Le Mans. Basically, the cars are heavier and legitimately slower than in 2016.
Thankfully, the balance of performance can be adjusted at any point before race day, which means there's a chance Ford's outlook will improve. Race officials can say the Ford GTs have been overbalanced, and in turn, the times could improve.
Ford, obviously, would love to see a repeat of 2016. There are less than two weeks until race day, but it remains to be seen if BoP could leave the GTs out of the running for a repeat win in France. Four Ford GTs will run in the race, which is set for June 17-18.