Ford Wins Pole and LM GTE Pro Class at Le Mans 50 Years After First Win - Engine Builder Magazine

Ford Wins Pole and LM GTE Pro Class at Le Mans 50 Years After First Win

History has been made! The No. 68 (Joey Hand (US), Dirk Müller (GER), and Sébastien Bourdais (FRA)) wins the 84th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Fifty years after Ford’s legendary 1966 victory, the twin-turbo Ford EcoBoost V6 race engine and Ford Chip Ganassi No. 68 wins Le Mans.

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History has been made! The No. 68 (Joey Hand (US), Dirk Müller (GER), and Sébastien Bourdais (FRA)) wins the 84th running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Fifty years after Ford’s legendary 1966 victory, the twin-turbo Ford EcoBoost V6 race engine and Ford Chip Ganassi No. 68 car performed flawlessly during the 24 hour endurance race. Roush Yates Engines working in partnership with Ford Performance powered the Ford Chip Ganassi Racing team to a legendary victory (la victoire) at the iconic Circuit de la Sarthe in Le Mans, France.

“This is a remarkable accomplishment,” said Doug Yates, President and CEO of Roush Yates Engines. “I am so proud of the Ford Performance, Roush Yates Engines and Ford Chip Ganassi Racing for building a winning team that led the Ford GT (No. 68) to the victory.  We are so honored to be a part of this historic win for Ford Motor Company and the Ford family.”

An all Ford front row led the Le Mans Grand Touring Endurance (LM GTE Pro) class off the grid. With a record field of 60 competitors, the No. 68 Ford GT, driven by Hand, Müller & Bourdais started from the pole position for the LM GTE Pro class. During qualifying it was evident that there would be a classic duel between the Fords and Ferraris. In Session 1 Qualifying, the No. 68 posted the fastest lap time of 3:51.185, edging out the Ferrari in the last few minutes. All four Ford Chip Ganassi cars qualified in the top five; No. 68 P1/P33, No. 69 P2/P34, No. 67 P4/P36, and No. 66 P5/P37 in class and overall respectively.  At the completion of qualifying the ACO handed down additional Balance of Performance (BoP) requirements to the teams, leaving them less than 24 hours to react before race time.

Starting the race under yellow flag conditions for the first time in its 84 year history because of rain, the Ford Chip Ganassi Racing teams had their hands full with constantly changing weather and track conditions. The Ford GTs managed their brakes, fuel and tires well around the 8.47miles/13.629kms circuit, racking up a total of 340 laps and a total of 2,879.8 miles. Staying clean through traffic and consistently executing the 38 curves through-out the circuit, including the famous ‘Porsche Curves’ was key to making it through the nighttime segment of the race.

The constant changing weather conditions of the 24-hour endurance race required modified strategies from lap to lap, both for driver and engine. Trackside, the Roush Yates Engines’ Calibration Engineers closely monitored four twin-turbo Ford EcoBoost V6 race engines, fine tuning boost and traction control to match both driver style and weather conditions.

From the 2016 World Endurance Championship, Le Mans 24 hours,Le Mans, France, on June 15, 2016. © Dominic James | www.dominic-james.com
From the 2016 World Endurance Championship, Le Mans 24 hours,Le Mans, France, on June 15, 2016. © Dominic James | www.dominic-james.com

Endurance racing pushes the limits of car, driver and team. The Ford GT cars showed great pace and reliability, running a top of the leader board for a majority of the race. The drivers showed that endurance racing is as much about mind as equipment. Driving varying segments throughout the course of the race, making sure they continued to execute, hitting their marks and staying focused.

At the 4:30:14 mark, Joey Hand chased down the No. 82 Ferrari car for the pass and leveraged the horsepower of the twin-turbo Ford EcoBoost V6 to pull away for the final time, putting on a two second lead.

Müller was piloting the No. 68, as it crossed the start-finish line to take the 24 Hours of Le Mans’ checkered flag for the Ford Chip Ganassi Racing, Ford Performance and Roush Yates Engines. Scott Dixon, driver of the No. 69 joined the No. 68 on the podium with a third place finish. All four Ford Chip Ganassi cars finished in top ten; No. 68 P1/P18, No. 69 P3/P20, No. 66 P4/P21, and No. 67 P9/P40 in class and overall respectively, is an epic achievement on such a prestigious circuit. With his 175th victory as a team owner, Chip Ganassi becomes the only owner in history to win the Indianapolis 500, Daytona 500, Rolex 24 At Daytona, 12 Hours of Sebring and Le Mans 24 Hours.

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“It’s an unbelievable feeling to be able to make this happen,” said Sébastien Bourdais. “There was so much effort, so much emotion, and to be the one that wins the trophy to give to the Ford family and everyone involved is very special.  Everything aligned for us today – the history, the Ferrari/Ford battle, 50 years on and the Ford family being here. To come out on top of all that is an amazing feeling.”

“The team (Ford Performance and Roush Yates Engines) was able to blend the fuel economy and performance technologies of the twin-turbo Ford EcoBoost V6 engine and couple it with the vehicle aerodynamics package to make the optimal endurance road race engine,” stated Wade Riesterer, Technical Manager of Roush Yates Engines Road Racing. “It all came together today!”

Each engine was developed, hand built and individually badged in Mooresville, NC.

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