Ford Exploring Factory GTE Program, Prototype Options

Photo: Laurent Chauveau/Endurance-Info

Photo: Laurent Chauveau/Endurance-Info

On the heels of a ramped up prototype program in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship this year, Ford is poised to expand its sports car racing efforts to new heights, which includes a targeted return to the famed 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Multiple industry sources have confirmed to Sportscar365 that the Detroit automaker is evaluating a factory GT program that will see Ford take on the likes Chevrolet, Dodge, Porsche and BMW with an ACO GTE-spec car built around the new-for-2016 regulations.

Considerations are also ongoing for a LMP2 engine supply program utilizing its EcoBoost powerplant currently used in TUDOR Championship DP cars.

It’s believed the GTE project is centered around the latest incarnation of the Ford GT production car, which could launch for the 2016 model year and coincide with the 50th anniversary of Ford’s first overall win at Le Mans.

Ford Racing director Jamie Allison was in Europe this past week and could not be reached for comment. The FIA and ACO held the latest round of GT manufacturer meetings in Paris on Thursday and Friday.

A Ford Racing spokesperson, meanwhile, said they “will not comment on speculation about programs.”

No word has been given on what team would run the GTE operation, although there already has been an active campaign to recruit drivers, both from the U.S. and Europe.

A proposal for a Ford Mustang GTE car, built and developed by Multimatic, was shot down by top-level executives last year but talks have continued for the blue oval to have a significant presence in the production-based class with the yet-to-be-announced model.

It’s unclear what affect, if any, Ford’s potential programs would have on its current factory-backed DP operation in the TUDOR Championship with partner teams Chip Ganassi Racing and Michael Shank Racing, which began this year.

While reports have linked Ford to potential factory Le Mans prototype efforts, Allison had previously told Sportscar365 that “there’s no basis of the rumor for LMP1.”

Factory LMP2 teams, meanwhile, are not allowed in ACO-organized championships, which includes Le Mans.

36 Comments

  1. Nuno Rosario

    July 14, 2014 at 12:40 pm

    ohhhhhhhhhhhh boy oh boy oh boy that gets me more pumped!!
    but i really hope it does turn out as rumoured and it is a Ford GT incarnation,i wouldnt like seeing the mustang getting GTE trim (and yes,i know there was a program for a ford mustang GT3 run by Marc VDS)

  2. JAGLeMans

    July 14, 2014 at 12:51 pm

    While factory teams aren’t allowed in P2, I’d suggest a factory engine program, in an off the shelf chassis, is in the spirit of the rules.

    We’ve seen Nissan in particular back certain P2 entrants in recent years.

    For any GTE program, we really need firm rules well before the end of the year, even for a ’16 program.

  3. Issac

    July 14, 2014 at 12:57 pm

    Ill believe when the car actually races we all saw what happened two years ago with the LMP2 car and the years before that with the GT. while it would be good to have a new manufacturer involved but with fords past I’m not getting excited yet.

    • Eric

      July 14, 2014 at 10:28 pm

      The LMP2 car was purely private, and the Robertson Ford GT team had as much “factory involvement” as a Spec-Miata team (i.e. next to nothing).

  4. Fujis123

    July 14, 2014 at 1:09 pm

    Ford’s move to no longer factory back John Force Racing in NHRA, fits perfectly with the timeframe to pool their resources into sports car racing. If it happens, it will be great to see another factory team.

    • Jack

      July 14, 2014 at 1:53 pm

      so, could ganassi be running a factory run p2 car in tusc and bring it to le mans?

      • Bakkster

        July 14, 2014 at 4:18 pm

        If IMSA allows them (and I imagine they would) I don’t see why it wouldn’t be allowed at Le Mans once they found a Silver driver. Or, if the WEC drops the silver requirement, they’ll just go race.

        • jack

          July 14, 2014 at 4:22 pm

          it makes perfect since for me to do it, and p2 for le mans would be more attractive to future p2 teams in america since tusc is all pro and le mans is too

  5. BreakerJackson

    July 14, 2014 at 1:52 pm

    I had figured that there would be a Mustang GTE in the cards, but a new GT with a GTE program to show it off would be truly sick. GT vs. Corvette vs. Viper, the kings of American muscle tearing up racetracks in North America and (hopefully) kicking everyone’s heads in at Le Mans. Bring it.

  6. Ric

    July 14, 2014 at 2:28 pm

    Corvette vs. Viper vs. GT would surely be the dream lineup in American factory-backed sportscar racing, and sending all three to Le Mans against Porsche, Ferrari, and Aston (BMW? McLaren? Mercedes? Nissan?) would be the ultimate GTE showdown. I’m crossing fingers and toes that this happens.

    As for P2, that would be amazing if Ganassi fielded a Ford P2 in USCC and Le Mans. Would love to see all the DPs swapped out for P2s and see more American teams at Le Mans.

    • The Brad

      July 14, 2014 at 5:29 pm

      AND a 392 Hemi Challenger.

      • Eric

        July 14, 2014 at 10:30 pm

        In what series? PWC (GTS) or Conti would be it.

  7. Scott

    July 14, 2014 at 2:55 pm

    Dear Ford Executives,

    Can we please employ Robertson Racing to field your GTE program? They deserve it and would be a fan favorite!

    Thanks,

    Scott

    • Tim

      July 14, 2014 at 3:53 pm

      That would be incredible to see them back again.

      • Bakkster

        July 14, 2014 at 4:46 pm

        As great a team and group of people as they are, no way they could manage a successful works GTE program. Build a GTD version, though, and I’d love to see them back.

        • Eric

          July 14, 2014 at 10:30 pm

          Smart man Bakkster, agree entirely.

    • Jason

      July 14, 2014 at 4:06 pm

      I hope Ford could convince Ganassi to abandon the DP and go with the GTE program.

      • Max

        July 14, 2014 at 4:19 pm

        Never going to happen. Maybe they’ll add a GTE program but what you’re suggesting is tantamount to Chevy asking them to drop to the Nationwide series because someone on the internet dislikes Cup cars.

    • RC

      July 14, 2014 at 4:06 pm

      Ditto to this! Would love to see Dave & Andrea running in GTE again. Always loved seeing that GT running around Sebring and Road Atlanta.

  8. Tarek R.

    July 14, 2014 at 3:28 pm

    What happened to the Ford Racing Roush power for LMP2 announced two years ago?

    • Tim

      July 14, 2014 at 3:56 pm

      Project Libra has the Roush engine…..They show up for 1 race/pre season testing and disappear. they looked like they were already to go this year but hasn’t raced yet. Its a shame.

      • jack

        July 14, 2014 at 4:23 pm

        they were put on reserve at daytoana and were denied entry at sebring

    • Bakkster

      July 14, 2014 at 4:22 pm

      That’s basically the engine in the DPs. Just expect some repackaging and maybe a slight downsizing for the 2017 P2 chassis. I always figured the DP program was just a way to jump start the P2 engine so they have something competitive out of the gate.

  9. jc

    July 14, 2014 at 5:18 pm

    All I see is Ford watching Ferrari fishing in the free publicity pool and dropping a line in for some of their own.

    No statement, no commitment, no plan, no investment, and voila, all sorts of people foaming at the mouth.

    PT Barnum had a quote…

  10. Wallace Monroe

    July 15, 2014 at 12:06 am

    I believe a Ford GT team run by Roger Penske would be nice for the GTE class.

  11. Tarek R.

    July 15, 2014 at 7:36 am

    Wonder why Ford is not allowing independent efforts. Saying no to Multimatic and a GTE Mustang.

    Earlier this year Ford (not clear if Ford Racing or Ford Europe) refused to homologate the Onyx Racing privateer Ford for WTCC.

  12. Dave Robertson

    July 15, 2014 at 6:13 pm

    I would love to see Ford build a GT40 homage car about 1 year/ each decade. Keep traditional styling clues and evolve it each time with world beating technology. And RACE IT. Race it with full factory backing! I see some kind words above reference our efforts from 2008- 2011. Thank you! To do it right (i. e. – Beating the world) will require an annual budget of about 10 times (per car) what we had. Also required is somewhere between 100- 1000 times the resources. We managed to be able to run and accomplish a bit with very little resource. A lot of hard work and we had some very smart people helping us. I am amazed at the quality of people who were willing to work with us! The problem is, however, to gain the last 1-2% needed to win requires a lot more. More cars (some testing while others are racing). More people (some doing R&D even while one team is at the track). 100 times as many wind tunnel days as we managed. Easy access to test tracks. And a huge factory backing to handle the politics of negotiating small rule changes. Of course you also need young fearless talented pro drivers. We were in it for the love of it! It is not a small undertaking. I hope to see a 2016 Ford GT racing internationally.

    • Wallace Monroe

      July 15, 2014 at 9:55 pm

      Well Mr. Robertson. My son and I really enjoyed watching those Ford GTs go screaming by every time we got to see them race. Thanks for giving many of us that thrill. Now and then we still talk about it.

    • Lew

      July 17, 2014 at 7:04 pm

      Dave, thank you so much for your efforts. Loved seeing the car and your team battle it out, the sport needs more people with your spirit, initiative, and yes, guts.

  13. av

    July 16, 2014 at 8:19 am

    Cool stuff. Thank you mr. Robertson. I think ford should create a small shop in the style of oak and zytek and build a proper p2. Race it in the usa and take it to le mans. Take the time (years) to develop it and do some serious flag waving world wide. I think it would be wonderful for the brand.

  14. bernard and india walker

    July 16, 2014 at 2:43 pm

    tell it tell it. spy shots 24 hrs ago . 20 months ago we got this party jump off

  15. bernard and india walker

    July 16, 2014 at 2:50 pm

    Kool KOOL Ferrari and aston martin would like a 3 way challenge . Porsche ahs soo much to do. Like making the 911 replicas . Running a hybrid program of thier own. Hybrid Ford Mustangs. Rihanna did make it easy for us. How ~ DARK HORSE~ had lots of eyes on it. FHM ~AUDI~ VIPER~ FORD of course . VettE well 7 hrs of oil adding. Must be a record !!. Shebly fans can compare our ECO – BOOST STANG . To the Old style PonY . RIDE ~ JUMP on IT: Gt Dibbz on the 1 st LAP DANCE @ THE SARTHE !!

  16. bernard and india walker

    July 16, 2014 at 3:19 pm

    Evolution all night .I heartradio BoomN . This song goes out to the navy. Rihanna & Tempest Eng : ~ I GIVE YOU LIFE ~ . YEAH HEARD THAT B 4 . BUTTA BUTTA (BASS DROP)# STUNND

  17. Nuno Rosario

    July 17, 2014 at 3:27 pm

    i wonder if anyone can say to me,whats the major differences between GT3 and GTE,because mclaren announced they would very much like to be in 2016,and they said the car is near enough in GTE standarts with a few changes
    plus,why hasnt porsche been working on a GT3 R variant of the 991??

    • Cedric

      July 24, 2014 at 8:19 am

      The main difference that I know of is the horsepower and handling. The GT3′s have more horsepower and weight in some cases but less handling than the GT2. Yea I still call them GT2′s lol.

  18. Cedric

    July 24, 2014 at 8:25 am

    If the ACO didn’t can the GT1 class by not letting the FIA GT1′s run at Le Mans we would’ve gotten our wish with Ford vs Chevy vs Dodge only if Dodge could’ve afforded it. I will continue to say bring back the GT1 class of the 2000′s and let them have at it again.

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