- Dec 21, 2008
Matech clinches FIA GT3 title with Ford GT, developing GT1 contender
Click above for a high-res gallery of the Matech Ford GT racecar
A big part of us dearly wanted the Blue Oval to have a factory race program for the Ford GT. Visions of four straight Le Mans victories danced in our heads, and we're sure Corvette Racing would love to have competed against someone besides themselves the past few years in ALMS. Alas, production of the GT supercar ended near the end of 2006 without so much as a single competitive lap. In the past couple years, however, a few privateer teams have tried their hands, including the Black Swan Racing and Falken, which ran in ALMS this past season. While neither had much success taking on Porsche and Ferrari in GT2, Matech Racing's three-car program dominated the European FIA GT3 by winning more than half the races and capturing the team championship in only its second year. Building on that success, Matech has announced plans to move up to GT1 next year with an upgraded version of the Ford GT race car. Hit the jump for the press release and enjoy the high-res images from Matech's 2008 season in the gallery below. Thanks for the tip, Thomas!
[Source: FIA GT3]
At the close of a spectacular and gripping season the Swiss Matech GT Racing team took the teams' crown last Friday during the final round of the FIA GT3 European Championship, held on the Dubai Autodrome. This circuit in the United Arab Emirates appeared to suit the Ford GTs, as was proven during the free practice sessions, Mortimer-Ellis, Khan-Mutsch and Pirri-Von Gartzen never being out of the top-10. This was later confirmed during the two qualifying sessions, with Bradley Ellis producing the best lap time in the first session. «
Another excellent overall result
Martin Bartek, the man in charge of the Matech organisation commented, "with Ellis and Mortimer on the podium, Khan and Mutsch in 4th place and Pirri-Von Gartzen in 8th, this time nothing could stand in our way from popping the champagne cork in the team rankings. I must admit that this European title is the culmination of unrelenting hard work during these last two years. For Matech GT Racing, a team that only saw the light of day in February 2007, it is an extraordinary achievement that clearly illustrates the way in which our car was built, developed and managed. Heartiest congratulations to all the members of the team and our thanks to Ford Racing USA and Ford of Europe for having believed in us!"
As for the drivers' title, the verdict fell on Friday also, with an honourable final 3rd place shared by Thomas Mutsch, Ian Khan and Bradley Ellis, Alex Mortimer finishing 4th in the overall ranking as he had not competed in the first round. Places which these Ford GT tamers might well have improved on this Saturday....however climatic conditions had other ideas, as the final race of the year was purely and simply cancelled as the result of flooding on the Dubai Autodrome!
"First and foremost I wish to congratulate Arnaud Peyroles and James Ruffier, who definitely deserve their 2008 title. This duo, which has consistently progressed throughout the championship season, was simply unbeatable here in Dubai," Martin Bartek continued. "However after the 1st race the drivers' vice-champion title remained perfectly in reach. Unfortunately the violent storm that hit the city during Friday night and Saturday morning converted the Autodrome, built entirely without any drainage system, into a water-ski circuit and put an end to all our hopes! For the Matech GT Racing team it is rather saddening that it should end in this manner, especially when one travels so far with the entire team and the back-up required."
A rather rowdy end of season for the FIA GT3 European Championship, a competition that saw the Matech Ford GTs constantly up in the forefront these last two years, clinching no less than 6 victories during the 2008 season alone. With a first international crown amply deserved, all that remains for the Swiss team is to carefully manage the inter season prior to eventually defending their title next year ... and who knows, making it perhaps a double by grabbing also the drivers' title. In the meanwhile, champagne!
All can now be revealed. The highly awaited GT1 version of the Ford GT will shortly see the light of day, as such confirming the increasingly numerous rumours doing the rounds these last few weeks. The manufacturer and tuner of the Ford GT3, which only recently clinched the 2008 teams award in the European FIA-GT3 Championship has now confirmed that during these last few weeks it had been busily developing the GT1 version of its muscle car. As such this GT1 version of the Ford GT, built according to the new FIA-GT 2010 regulations, will be making its debut and competing as from 2009 in the FIA-GT Championship. The perfect opportunity for Matech GT Racing to gain a maximum amount of technical information prior to the official launch of the World Championship in 2010, because it is a known fact that the best test bench is and always will be ... the race!