Ford Weighing Le Mans Return

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Thread: Ford Weighing Le Mans Return

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    Ford Weighing Le Mans Return

    Ford Weighing Le Mans Return
    by Mircea Panait
    14th July 2014

    The Blue Oval was a dominant figure of endurance racing back in the 1960s, when it dominated the 24 Hours of Le Mans four times with the Ford GT40. Despite this remarkable streak, the American manufacturer didn't enjoy any other remarkable success in the World Sportscar Championship or the FIA World Endurance Championship. But that may change…

    …sooner than fans of the Blue Oval might have expected. According to inside info gathered by Marshall Pruett and published by racer.com, Ford is weighing a return to the grueling French endurance race that it had dominated from 1966 to 1969. Even though the automaker headquartered in Dearborn, Michigan is currently channeling its motorsport efforts especially in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, sources hint at a possible 2016 - 2017 comeback to the Circuit de la Sarthe.

    Lamentably, Ford has slim chances of competing in the king-of-the-hill LM P1 class against Audi, Porsche and Toyota, 'cause this level of competition requires a helluva lot of money for developing a competitive hybrid powertrain, among other stuff. But if an EcoBoost V6 borrowed from the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship Daytona Prototype racer might find its way under the bonnet of the finished product next to an electrical motor and a battery pack, then we're looking at a LM P2 effort, also known as the "little prototype" class.
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    Re: Ford Weighing Le Mans Return

    Who are they going to fund to develop the car for them while they just provide the blue oval stickers ?

    Lola cars, who built the GT40, are now owned by Multimatic Inc and Haas Auto

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    Re: Ford Weighing Le Mans Return

    They have shut down the Langley Slough UK plant down the developed the original GT 40.

    Most of the F1 cars of today are designed/based in the UK.
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    Re: Ford Weighing Le Mans Return

    I'll bet they do something in the LMP class, that way it'll be someone else that develops the chassis and likely an EB engine.

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    Re: Ford Weighing Le Mans Return

    Quote Originally Posted by Ruperts Trooper View Post
    Who are they going to fund to develop the car for them while they just provide the blue oval stickers ?

    Lola cars, who built the GT40, are now owned by Multimatic Inc and Haas Auto
    If they open their coffers, I'm sure they'll find someone to take on the responsibility. If they want to make a real go it, money will open all kinds of doors.

    Quote Originally Posted by spd98 View Post
    I'll bet they do something in the LMP class, that way it'll be someone else that develops the chassis and likely an EB engine.
    I thought the "LMP class" was really just the umbrella nominclature for the LMP1 and LMP2 classes. Is there actually a class that's just dubbed "LMP"?
    Last edited by nadepalma; 07-14-2014 at 03:12 PM.
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    Re: Ford Weighing Le Mans Return

    Quote Originally Posted by nadepalma View Post
    I thought the "LMP class" was really just the umbrella nominclature for the LMP1 and LMP2 classes. Is there actually a class that's just dubbed "LMP"?
    You have it right. There are two groupings, each with various specs, even within each grouping. LMP1 allows for "one-off" racing engines, while LMP2 is for production-based engines. There are a lot of other details with weight and dimensions, but those are the main differences as I see them.

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    Re: Ford Weighing Le Mans Return

    Quote Originally Posted by Ruperts Trooper View Post
    Who are they going to fund to develop the car for them while they just provide the blue oval stickers ?

    Lola cars, who built the GT40, are now owned by Multimatic Inc and Haas Auto
    Henry Ford II spent many a night wishing that the scenario you describe was accurate, because that is what Ford was looking for. In reality, Ford had to redesign the car so heavily to be competitive that it would have likely been easier to have just undertaken the project alone, from scratch. And even after several major changes they still eventually had to send the car back to the U.S. for Shelby American and Holman and Moody to turn it into a winner anyway. There is a reason why the ultimate development of the GT40 program, the Mk IV, was designed and built entirely in the U.S., and it wasn't just to have an 'all American' effort at LeMans.

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    Re: Ford Weighing Le Mans Return

    Quote Originally Posted by Chassis Guy View Post
    You have it right. There are two groupings, each with various specs, even within each grouping. LMP1 allows for "one-off" racing engines, while LMP2 is for production-based engines. There are a lot of other details with weight and dimensions, but those are the main differences as I see them.
    Also, manufacturers are not allowed in the LP2 class. At least not in the Tudor series, it may be different in Europe. Manufacturers are allowed in the LMP1 class, that's where we see Audi, Porsche, and Toyota.
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    Re: Ford Weighing Le Mans Return

    Quote Originally Posted by syr74 View Post
    Henry Ford II spent many a night wishing that the scenario you describe was accurate, because that is what Ford was looking for. In reality, Ford had to redesign the car so heavily to be competitive that it would have likely been easier to have just undertaken the project alone, from scratch. And even after several major changes they still eventually had to send the car back to the U.S. for Shelby American and Holman and Moody to turn it into a winner anyway. There is a reason why the ultimate development of the GT40 program, the Mk IV, was designed and built entirely in the U.S., and it wasn't just to have an 'all American' effort at LeMans.
    The changes done by Shelby were to accomodate the bigger, heavier, more powerful 7-litre engine - and yes, it was embarassing having Brits doing the work.

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    Re: Ford Weighing Le Mans Return

    Quote Originally Posted by Ruperts Trooper View Post
    The changes done by Shelby were to accomodate the bigger, heavier, more powerful 7-litre engine - and yes, it was embarassing having Brits doing the work.
    That just isn't true, and frankly I suspect that you know it. Historically Shelby and Holman Moody worked on these cars long before the 427-equipped cars were developed, and it was actually during that time that the idea came to those racing teams to fit the car with a big block engine, a reality which eventually came to pass. The work Ford did with British companies in the 60's almost always led to extremely fast, beautiful cars that bring big bucks today. But the flip side of that coin is that Ford and their American associates almost always had to do so much work to the cars to make them competitive that they were often, effectively, completely new cars that took more trouble to develop than would an actual, clean sheet car. In fact, in some cases, they literally were completely new cars. We've known for ages that Ford was looking to untangle themselves from most of their British allies relatively early in, Ford has never made a secret of this but has never gone out of their way to advertise it either, and eventually they just decided to simply be happy with what they had already accomplished, most likely out of frustration with the big block Shelby Cobra project turning into such a mess and the GT40 MKIV being effectively banned by the FIA because it was felt by the sanctioning body to be insurmountably superior to the then current European entries.
    Last edited by syr74; 07-14-2014 at 02:36 PM.

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    Re: Ford Weighing Le Mans Return

    I can't imagine Mr. Mulally would have looked into such a thing. Is this Mr. Fields influence?
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    Re: Ford Weighing Le Mans Return

    Quote Originally Posted by nadepalma View Post
    If they open their coffers, I'm sure they'll find someone to take on the responsibility. If they want to make a real go it, money will open all kinds of doors.


    I thought the "LMP class" was really just the umbrella nominclature for the LMP1 and LMP2 classes. Is there actually a class that's just dubbed "LMP"?

    No your kind of correct LMP is 2 classes with slightly different rules. BUT LMP1 is the class geared for manufacturers, LMP2 is designed for private racers.

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    Re: Ford Weighing Le Mans Return

    LMP1 or nothing!
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    Re: Ford Weighing Le Mans Return

    I would like to see Ford back in the F1 as an engine supplier. F1 would be a perfect platform for the ecoboost name.

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    Re: Ford Weighing Le Mans Return

    Audi was considering entering Formula 1 15 years ago, but realized the budget they had would place them mid pack. INSTEAD, they took that budget and went Endurance Sports Car racing and DOMINATED the world stage for the last decade. When you win LeMans, it is the MANUFACTURER that gets the glory. "Who won the Daytona 500 this year? Dale Earnhardt did." or "Who won LeMans this year? Audi did.". This whole thread is talking about what Ford did at LeMans 40 years ago! Audi's LeMans program has a LOT to do with Audi rising from the dead over the last decade. But, as stated, these fans are not stupid. Do the work in house, and stay for the long haul.
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