This year, Ford returns to the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Although Audi and Porsche have dominated in recent years, the romantics will be delighted to welcome the return of the legendary brand to the French circuit. Fifty years ago, the Ford GT took the top three places in the final classification. The great attraction of the race is that the race - in addition to the duration of XNUMX hours - is largely held on closed roads that are public roads for the rest of the year. If you drive in the summer near Le Mans on your way to the holiday destination, you will also see the red and white curbstones here and there in the bends of the road.
Everyone knows the black-and-white images from the past when the drivers were still running across the track to their cars to start as quickly as possible. They rode the race without safety features, in shirt sleeves and without safety belts. Much has changed since then, but the exhaustion battle on the asphalt of the French countryside has remained, the brightly lit pits where a car is trifled with at any time, the beams of light in the nocturnal darkness, the smell of gasoline and rubber, the fair and tents along the track for the public: the 24 hour of Le Mans was, is and remains unique in the world.
"Ford is back"
For Ford, the edition of 2016 is special, because the American car brand has registered four Fords GT after years of absence. "Ford is back at the world's greatest endurance race," fifty years after the historic 1966-1-2 victory was achieved with the Ford GT 3 in 40. Before the well-known, large ROLEX clock on the circuit indicates three o'clock on Saturday 18 June, the American Ford Chip Ganassi Racing team worked hard to prepare the four GTs for the endurance race on the French asphalt. A test day was completed at the French circuit at the beginning of June for the final set-up. "Fifty years ago, one of the most legendary and historic two-way motorsport battles took place in Ford, between Ford and Ferrari," says Bill Ford, executive. chairman of Ford Motor Company. "And now, in 2016, Ford is once again taking on the strongest opponents in long-distance racing."
New Ford for long distance racing
"We have been developing the all-new Ford GT from the very beginning with the goal of returning to the world of long-distance racing for GTs with Ford," said Raj Nair, executive vice president, Global Product Development and Chief Technical Officer. “We are very happy with the progress we have made so far. We won with the Ford GT on Laguna Seca and were second in Spa-Francorchamps. And now our focus is on Le Mans, to show that the GT is a front runner. ”
Start numbers refer to victories in historical years
The Ford Chip Ganassi Racing team is this year with the Ford GT active in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) and the IMSA SportsCar Championship. The WEC team recently booked a second place at the Spa-Francorchamps circuit in its second race, making it a runner-up in the ranking at the start of the 24 Hour at Le Mans. “Everyone on the Ford Chip Ganassi Racing team is really looking forward to the upcoming Le Mans 24 Hour. And especially to liven up the memory of Ford's historic victory fifty years ago, "says Chip Ganassi. Very aptly, the Fords GT were given the starting numbers #66, #67, #68 and #69, a clear reference to Ford's victories at Le Mans in 1966, 1967, 1968 and 1969.