While Ford’s return to the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2016 has been considered an open secret, the Detroit automaker is reportedly preparing to make the formal announcement at Circuit de la Sarthe next month.
A Ford Performance hospitality unit and stage is being constructed trackside (pictured above), with all indications pointing towards an unveil of its GTE-spec Ford GT car during race week at this year’s French endurance classic.
As previously reported by Sportscar365, a two-car factory GTE-Pro effort is expected from Chip Ganassi Racing, which is also set to feature a GT Le Mans class program in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship next year.
According to a report on Motorsport.com, the Multimatic-built car, which features a 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 engine, has already completed an initial rollout at Calabogie Motorsports Park in Ontario with development driver Scott Maxwell at the wheel.
All 2016 GTE-spec cars are required to take part in the FIA’s Balance of Performance test at Michelin’s high-speed proving grounds near Clermont-Ferrand, France in September.
Ford’s return to Le Mans will coincide with the 50th anniversary of its first overall victory in the race, achieved by Bruce McLaren and Chris Amon in a Ford GT40 Mk. II.
The 1960’s saw a titanic rivalry between the Blue Oval and Ferrari. A special exhibition on the manufacturers’ duel at Le Mans will also be on display at the track next month.