Wednesday, Oct 9 03:08pm
AUTHOR: Simon Chapman

Ford GT swan song beckons

Petit Le Mans is set to be the final fully-fledged factory-backed effort for the Ford GT.


Five-time IndyCar Series champion Scott Dixon will be among the drivers looking to take one last victory in the 3.5-litre turbocharged V6 sports car that made waves back in 2016. 


A factory-backed effort from Chip Ganassi Racing saw the cars race both in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and the FIA World Endurance Championship, combining for a four-car assault on the 24 Hours of Le Mans.


The car won on its ‘debut’ with Joey Hand (USA), Dirk Müller (Germany) and Sébastien Bourdais (France). The victory marked 50 years since the original Ford GT40 famously won with Kiwi duo Bruce McLaren and Chris Amon.


Over the past four years, the four Ford GT race cars have notched up 22 pole positions and 19 victories across the two championships.


This weekend Chip Ganassi Racing will look to notch up the 20th win at the annual 10-hour race around Road Atlanta. Ryan Briscoe (Australia), Richard Westbrook (Great Britain) and Scott Dixon will no doubt looking to take those honours. 


Porsche have been the dominant force with Earl Bamber and Laurens Vanthoor (Belgium) leading teammates Nick Tandy (Great Britain) and Patrick Pilet (France) in the Porsche 911 RSR.


“This year’s Petit will be bittersweet for me as the Ford GT bows out after four amazing years running in two championships across the globe,” Larry Holt, Chief Technical Officer of Multimatic, said.


“Multimatic is massively proud of the car that we conceived, developed and produced and have our fingers crossed that Chip’s amazing team can end it all on a major high.”


This weekend will be the final time the Ford GT appears in the factory colours. However, privateer entries haven’t been ruled out for the future. 


Ben Keating raced a fifth Ford GT in the 24 Hours of Le Mans this year in the GTE-AM division but was disqualified for a technical breach.


“For us specifically with the GT program, as we’ve said with a factory program closing out after Petit Le Mans this year, we are still finalizing arrangements for where these great cars will continue, who’s going to own them, where are they going to race, so there’s definitely still an opportunity for that,” Mark Rushbrook of Ford Performance told RACER. 


“It certainly won’t be for a full season or at a full factory level, but we do expect that we’re going to see at least some of the cars on track next year in 2020.”


Ford is reportedly refocussing their efforts on higher-level sports car racing, which could see them return to IMSA or WEC in the future with a factory-backed effort.