Sunday 19th June 2016 saw the No. 68 Ford GT of drivers Sébastien Bourdais, Joey Hand and Dirk Müller finish as the overall GT winner of the 2016 Le Mans 24 Hours and the No. 69 Ford GT come home in third place – exactly 50 years on from Ford’s 1-2-3 victory at Le Mans in 1966.
In a day-long battle that echoed the race in 1966, Ford and Ferrari pitted their ingenious engineering and competitive instincts against each other in a hard fought contest. Ford's intentions to race at Le Mans were announced at the legendary track last year and the GT’s victory comes a mere 395 days after the car first turned a wheel in May 2015 at Canada's Calabogie Motorsports Park. After much testing and racing in both the IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car Championship and FIA World Endurance Championship, the Ford Chip Ganassi team has crafted and refined a victorious vehicle for Le Mans in just over one year.
“This is an historic moment for the Ford Motor Company,” said Bill Ford, executive chairman, Ford Motor Company. “We dared to dream that we could return to Le Mans, 50 years after the incredible 1966 win, and take on the toughest competition in the world. The pride we all felt when the Ford GT crossed the line at Le Mans is indescribable. The team that designed, built and raced the Ford GT has worked tirelessly to bring us to this result and I am proud of each and every one of them. The Ford Chip Ganassi Racing team demonstrated the spirit of Ford, that of innovation, determination and true teamwork. We cherish our history and heritage, but today we made history again and I couldn't be more proud.”
“Building a new car and racing it at Le Mans is a monumental task,” commented Mark Fields, president and chief executive officer, Ford Motor Company. “We took it on and we conquered the biggest challenge in sports car racing: the Le Mans 24 Hours. It has been incredible to share this event with our dealers, owners, employees, sponsors and guests who are all bursting with pride at being part of the Ford family. Every manufacturer in the GTE Pro class fought with everything they had in the best competitive spirit, and we are thrilled to have played our part in this incredible race.”
The Ford GT's quality was obvious after its first win at Laguna Seca on 1st May in the IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car Championship and then by qualifying all four cars in 1st, 2nd, 4th and 5th positions for Le Mans.
Before the race, a production Ford GT led the 1-2-3 finishing Ford GT40s from the 1966 Le Mans onto the track for a parade lap. The All-New Ford GT created a huge wave of enthusiasm when it was revealed at North American International Auto Show in January 2015 as the flagship of Ford's elite performance models and a showcase of their latest innovations with ultra-efficient aerodynamics, the most powerful EcoBoost production engine ever and lightweight construction utilising materials, such as carbon fibre and aluminium.
The ultra-high-performance supercar has rear-wheel drive and a mid-mounted, next-generation, twin-turbocharged, 3.5-litre EcoBoost V6 that generates over 600bhp – the most powerful EcoBoost production engine ever. The EcoBoost V6 is paired with a 7-speed dual-clutch transmission for almost instantaneous gear changes.
The Ford GT now goes on to compete in the IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car Championship in North America and further FIA World Endurance Championship races, such as The 6 Hours of Nürburgring, the 6 Hours of Mexico, and 6 Hours of Circuit of the Americas, as well as the remaining FIA WEC rounds in Fuji, Shanghai and Bahrain.
Congratulations to everyone involved and good luck for the rest of the season!