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Ford Exploring Factory GTE Program, Prototype Options

Ford evaluating factory GTE program for 2016…

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.

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365 as well as the recently launched e-racing365 Web site for electric racing. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for FOXSports.com/SPEED Channel, and contributes to other publications worldwide. Contact John

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