With less than a week to go before the 2006 Goodwood Festival of Speed, the announcements from participating marques continue to roll in. Ford will celebrate the 40th anniversary of its 1-2-3 finish at the 1966 24 Hours of Le Mans and its 4-year win streak at Circuit de la Sarthe by sending one of its original GT40 racing cars prepared for Goodwood in the 1966 winning livery.
Le Mans winners Dan Gurney (1967) and Jackie Oliver (1969) will drive the black #2 GT40 up the hill next weekend. To reiterate, attendees at Goodwood will get to see Dan Gurney, American motorsports icon of the first order, drive a GT40 up the Goodwood hill. Really, the only way it could be better is if he was driving a Mk IV from 1967, but that's probably being greedy.
While the GT40 is the star attraction from the Blue Oval, they're also sending a modern Ford GT for the hillclimb and a 2006 BP Ford Focus RS WRC (currently second in the WRC manufacturer standings). The Focus will be driven on both the hillclimb and the forest rally stage at Goodwood by its regular pilots, Marcus Gronholm and Mikko Hirvonen.
A number of privately-owned Fords and Ford-powered cars are also entered in the festival.
(Press releases, photos after the jump)
2006 BP Ford Focus RS WRC
FORD GT40's GREATEST MOMENT TO BE RELIVED AT GOODWOOD FESTIVAL OF SPEED
GOODWOOD, UK, 7-9 July, 2006 – On the afternoon of the 19 June, 1966, as the hands on the famous clock at the end of the Le Mans pit wall crept towards 4pm, three Ford GT40s swept through the circuit's final corner towards the finish. With their headlamp beams reflecting off the rain-soaked tarmac, they closed ranks to complete the race only feet apart.
The crowd roared, the chequered flag waved and in the stand above the pits Henry Ford II savoured the most famous motor racing victory in the history of the company his grandfather had started 63 years earlier. The mighty Ferrari team with its great Le Mans record had been comprehensively beaten. It was one of the proudest moments in Ford's long motor sport history.
The route to victory
It had been a long, hard journey to victory - much longer than the mere 24 hours of the race. Three years earlier, Enzo Ferrari had quietly investigated selling his business to Ford, which had wanted to add high performance lustre to its public image. The deal fell through and Ford's response was to set up a special vehicles department to develop its own high performance cars for road and racetrack.
British engineer Eric Broadley was appointed to design and build a GT car to take on Ferrari. John Wyer, formerly Aston Martin's racing manager, was recruited to run the team, and Carroll Shelby, creator of the charismatic Ford-powered AC Cobra, would race and promote the car.
The team moved fast: by late summer 1963 the chassis was under development and shake-down tests had been held at Goodwood, Brands Hatch and Monza, and by the autumn enough data had been gathered to build the new car.
The first performance tests were at the Le Mans spring practice in April 1964, where the car's highly impressive top speed took it into new aerodynamic realms, though it quickly became apparent that some form of spoiler would be necessary. The GT40, complete with spoiler, made its race debut the following month at the Nürburgring in the hands of Graham Hill and Bruce McLaren. It retired early but the signs were promising.
The 1965 season saw some team changes, with Carroll Shelby running the racing and John Wyer starting work on building cars for private customers. It also saw the introduction of a 7-litre version known as the Mark 1. The team headed for Daytona, where they netted an almost perfect result - GT40s finished first and third, with a Ford-powered Cobra separating them in second place.
Next came the Mark II, regarded by many as the purest of the GT40 breed. All the experience of the previous two seasons was contained in this car, and in 1966 it started to pay off. First, second, third, and fifth at Daytona. First and second at Sebring. Second at the Spa 1000 KM.
The historic 1966 race
Thus the stage was set for the 1966 24 hours of Le Mans. For Ford this was a major operation involving three teams. In the Shelby-American cars were Dan Gurney/Jerry Grant, Bruce McLaren/Chris Amon, and Ken Miles/Denis Hulme. The Holman and Moody team included Mark Donohue/Paul Hawkins, Mario Andretti/Lucien Bianchi, and Ronnie Bucknum/Dick Hutcherson, while a car for Graham Hill/Dick Thompson/Brian Muir ran under the Alan Mann banner.
When the flag dropped and the drivers sprinted to their cars for the start, it was Graham Hill who took an early lead. Ken Miles had to make an early stop, but was soon slashing seconds off the lap record in an effort to catch up. After the first hour, Ford held five of the first eight places. By early evening Miles had fought through to the front, but by this stage of the race the result was definitely still up for grabs. After six hours and several pit stops, Ferrari moved into first and second spots, but not for long. Miles retook the lead before midnight, and over the next few hours the furious pace set by the Mark II started to tell on its competitors.
By four o'clock in the morning Ford occupied the first six places, and with most of the Ferraris having dropped out due to mechanical failure or accidents, the second half of the race looked to be more about durability than speed.
It looked good for Ford, but with seven hours to go, Jerry Grant came into the pits in the car he had taken over from Gurney. It was out of water and overheating badly, and within an hour Grant and a disconsolate Gurney were out of the race.
The final hours were extremely tense, both in the pits and in the cars. Ford had hoped to arrange for Miles and McLaren to cross the line together and record the first dead-heat in Le Mans history, but this plan was scotched by race officials who said that as the Le Mans staggered start meant the cars did not start at the same point, a dead heat was impossible to organise.
It was decided that McLaren would take the chequered flag and as the race drew to an end, he and Miles bunched up with Dick Hutcherson, who was several laps behind, to provide the most dramatic and memorable finish ever seen at Le Mans.
At Le Mans in 1966 the company proved that the lessons of two hard years of development had been well learned, and that 12 cylinders and scarlet bodywork were not essential ingredients for victory.
The victories mount up
The legend was just beginning. In 1967 Dan Gurney made up for his 1966 disappointment by winning with AJ Foyt in the new Mk IV version and in 1968 Pedro Rodriguez and Lucien Bianchi won by five laps in the legendary GT40 that bore the chassis number 1075. This car also won at Brands Hatch, Spa and Watkins Glen that year and it took Jacky Ickx and Jackie Oliver to yet another stirring Le Mans win in 1969.
In just six years of international competition, the GT40 established itself in the hearts and minds of motor sport fans across the world in a way that no other GT car had done before or has achieved since. Of all its victories, however, the one that registered its image most firmly was undoubtedly that fabulous 1-2-3 in 1966.
As a tribute to the drivers and teams responsible for the GT40s successes at Le Mans, Ford has refurbished its own car in the 1966-winning livery. At Goodwood this weekend, almost exactly 40 years after that first great victory, spectators will be treated to the stirring sight and sound of Dan Gurney and Jack Oliver taking it up the famous hillclimb, just a short distance from the track that played a significant part in this legendary car's development.
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GRÖNHOLM AND HIRVONEN SHOWCASE FOCUS RS WRC AT GOODWOOD FESTIVAL
GOODWOOD, UK, 7-9 July, 2006 – Ford's world rally stars Marcus Grönholm and Mikko Hirvonen will drive the new 2006 Ford Focus RS World Rally Car publicly for the first time in Britain at the Goodwood Festival of Speed (7-9 July). They will demonstrate the car, which has already won three times this season in the FIA World Rally Championship, on both the famous hillclimb and the forest special stage at the prestigious historic motorsport event.
Hirvonen will be behind the wheel on both Friday and Saturday while Grönholm will take over for the final day on Sunday. It will be the first time that either has appeared at the festival.
"I have heard so many good things about the Goodwood Festival of Speed that I'm really looking forward to driving there," said Grönholm. "The event has a wonderful reputation and you only have to look at the calibre of drivers in attendance to see how highly it is regarded. I hope the crowd will enjoy their first view of the new Focus RS WRC car in action in the UK."
The Finnish duo has made an impressive start to the BP-Ford World Rally Team's world championship campaign. At the midpoint of the season, with eight of the 16 events held, the team lies second in the manufacturers' standings. Double world champion Grönholm has won three rallies and lies second in the drivers' table with Hirvonen in fourth.
Ford has also extended its record-breaking run of consecutive points finishes in the WRC to 68 – a feat unmatched by any other manufacturer in the sport's history. The run began on the Monte Carlo Rally in 2002 and all 68 have been achieved with the Focus RS World Rally Car.
The newest version of the Focus RS WRC made its full championship debut on the opening round of the 2006 championship in Monte Carlo – the most famous rally in the series. Grönholm claimed a remarkable debut victory and followed that with a second success amid the hostile snow and ice of the Swedish Rally in February.
Thirty-eight-year-old Grönholm continued to set a strong pace as the series moved onto asphalt, leading in Spain and taking a fine second place in Corsica. The Finn also led on the rougher gravel roads of Argentina and Sardinia before dominating the toughest event of all, the Acropolis Rally of Greece, to take a start to finish victory. Such has been the impact of the new Focus RS WRC that it has led six of the eight rounds to date.
While Grönholm has chased outright victory, team-mate Hirvonen has concentrated on developing his experience on events of which he has little knowledge, while continuing to rack up manufacturers' points for Ford. He has excelled, taking a career-best second in Sardinia and third in Greece.
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FORD CELEBRATES CLASSIC LE MANS WIN AT GOODWOOD 2006
Full programme of competition car entries and logistics support for 2006 Festival
GOODWOOD, UK, 7-9 July, 2006 – Ford Motor Company's sponsorship of the Goodwood Festival of Speed continues this year with a major programme of support to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the first Ford GT40 victory at Le Mans.
Ford has entered several cars on the historic hillclimb. In the Supercar category, a Ford GT will be piloted by several selected drivers including Roelant de Waard, Ford of Britain's Chairman and Managing Director, and Jost Capito, Director of Ford Team RS.
De Waard, an enthusiastic amateur racing driver, said: "This is my first opportunity to attend the Goodwood Festival of Speed, which has always been a very important event for Ford, and one in which the company plays a leading role. The chance to drive the new GT up the hill, almost exactly 40 years after the original GT40 achieved that legendary Le Mans victory, is extremely exciting."
Tribute to 1966 Ford 1-2-3 at Le Mans
An original GT40, reconfigured by Ford to represent the 1966 Le Mans-winning machine, is also entered. It has been prepared as a tribute to the drivers and teams that took the GT40 to four successive Le Mans victories, and will be seen in its black and silver livery for the first time at the Festival. It was in 1996 that Ford scored its historic 1-2-3 victory with the three GT40s crossing the finishing line in formation at the end of the race.
Two of the victorious drivers will be at the Festival to take it up the hill - Dan Gurney, whose victory came in 1967 when he partnered AJ Foyt in a Mk. IV version, and Jackie Oliver, who partnered Jacky Ickx for the GT40's fourth consecutive win in 1969.
Marcus Grönholm and the Ford Focus RS WRC
Goodwood's Forest Rally Stage has been substantially revised this year. Ford will be represented by a 2006 World Rally Championship Focus for Marcus Grönholm, who has scored three WRC victories in the Focus this year, and his team-mate Mikko Hirvonen. The Ford Focus RS WRC will also be driven on the Goodwood hillclimb.
Puma Motorsport, the Ford team's racewear supplier, has generously donated five pairs of Puma overalls to be provided for lucky passengers in the Focus at Goodwood. During the Festival the overalls will be signed by as many rallying and racing stars as possible and auctioned in aid of the Richard Burns Foundation, formed to raise money for and awareness of the fight against illness and injury, particularly in the areas of cancer and road injury.
As usual, there will be many privately entered Ford and Ford-powered competition cars at the Festival, including Roush Technologies' 1999 Trans-Am Mustang, a 1981 Zakspeed Capri, an RS 200, Escort RS 1600 & 1800, a Sierra Cosworth - even a Ford Transit! In the Grand Prix classes, Ford-Cosworth engines will power more cars than engines from any other manufacturer.
Ford Transit in support and on show
As in previous years, Ford is supplying the Festival organisers with a large number of Transit and Ranger vehicles for use by marshals and officials around the Festival site. A new long wheelbase Transit will also be provided for a special feature in the highly popular Junior Festival of Speed. Over the weekend, a team of skilled graffiti artists from the Brighton-based "Rare Kind" company will decorate the Transit with iconic images from the Festival - the cars, the stars, the bridges, Goodwood House, the entertainment, and so on.
The Earl of March, on whose Goodwood Estate the Festival of Speed takes place each year, said: "Our work in putting on the Festival is made easier by the assistance of our sponsors who provide logistical support. Ford has always been particularly helpful with the loan of Transit Minibuses, Rangers, and four-wheel drive vehicles. I'm delighted that this year they are also providing a brand new Transit as a 'canvas' for the imaginative work of the Rare Kind artists - I'm sure the results will be fascinating and spectacular!"
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