Prior to its breakthrough victory in last weekend’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, Sportscar365 caught up with Ford Racing director Jamie Allison to get his thoughts on the progress of its new factory EcoBoost DP program, and what the future holds, both in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship and Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge.
What was the reason behind going with the EcoBoost program in DP?
“There were three factors where the planets aligned, so to speak. We were very involved in GRAND-AM, both in the GS as well as our 5.0 liter engine in Daytona Prototypes since its inception.
“Obviously, there was always outreach and consideration of what was going on in ALMS, so the opportunity when the two came together, it gave us that impetus that you can have one, instead of a fractionalized approach to sports car racing in America.
“Two, the fact that the unified series adopted global specifications with the involvement of the FIA and ACO around Le Mans. That’s hallowed ground for Ford and for sports car racing. Knowing that opportunity is there, with the unified series, [is important].
“The most important piece to us is that we’ve always wanted to race production-based applications. Here we had a turbocharged, direct-injected engine that’s available in almost every one of our car lines, all the way from a Fiesta 1-liter up to a 3.5-liter in a Taurus SHO and F150.
“With the range of cars offering EcoBoost, and displacing a 5.0 liter, it’s really how we parlay it in the marketplace. You could have the power, with the boost, and you can have the fuel economy with the downsizing of the displacement and have a good optimal combination.
“We thought that was ideal in endurance racing, where you could have the opportunity to showcase fuel mileage and efficiency over long distances.”
Did it turn into an accelerated timeframe in debuting the new engine?
“Early on when we first endeavored about bringing it in, it was going to be similar to what we did with the 5.0 liter application in GRAND-AM. When the opportunity presented itself with the availability of a stellar team like Ganassi, it really raised the stakes in terms of the preparedness and timing.
“That accelerated our development and readiness to show up at Daytona with Chip, along with Shank, to represent to the world that we turned a Ford production-based EcoBoost into sports car racing.”
How has the development process gone so far?
“Like in all forms of racing, you never stop. There’s always constant room for development. We put the EcoBoost engine on our dyno four or five times leading up to Daytona and one more time since.
“We’ve run the equivalent of four 24-hour races on our dyno, and these are all simulated runs, so we effectively run laps of Daytona. We’ve accumulated a lot of miles, to understand the nuances.
“We’re taking a production engine, a production block, production heads and a largely production valve-train, and almost doubling the horsepower, going from 300 hp to about 550 hp. Yet, you still have stock parts.
“That’s a great proof point for us, about the validity and robustness of the parts. But it also shows that we really needed to develop around those primary engine parts. That’s what we’re doing.”
What are your views on IMSA’s Balance of Performance process?
“I have faith and trust in the series. I have confidence that they’re diligent and I believe every opportunity that comes along, if something if overlooked, that it presents an opportunity to add to their arsenal to make more informed decisions down the road.
“I think on the engine front, we’re adjusted appropriately. Obviously the next frontier is aero BoP, and the last frontier is balancing between two different forms [of cars].
“At the end of the day, it’s not a perfect science. Judgement is applied but as long as these judgements are applied with an informed data metric-based assessment, then I think we can accept how those decisions are made.”
There’s a new Mustang being released for the 2015 model year. Will we see it raced in the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge?
“We’ve not made an official announcement but with the new car coming online about the second/third quarter of this year, in terms of customer availability, then we at Ford Racing will take that application and adapt it for racing.
“We’re in development but have not made an announcement on the timing of such a program. Multimatic is a top-tier supplier to Ford Motor Company, so they understand the diligence and rigor needed to OEMs, such as Ford.
“We have a great relationship with Larry [Holt] and the team at Multimatic. They built and developed all these derivatives of Mustangs in road racing, so for me, they are our natural partner. We’re certainly working with our natural partner on this program.”
Are you open to customer EcoBoost DPs in the TUDOR Championship?
“We are really full-up with focusing on our primary teams of Ganassi and Shank. Literally we’re into our second race, so at this point, we’re not looking at customer programs or beyond the two teams that we have in place today. But the future, as we all know, is a variable. We’ll see how it unfolds.”