It wasn't that long ago that Ford was selling a genuine supercar, one that made no excuses as it took on the world's best. The Ford GT had one foot in the past and one foot in the present, with its '60s GT40 good looks and somewhat more modern 5.4-liter supercharged V8. Altogether, some 4,000 or so GTs were built during its production run. Sadly that program ground to a halt in 2006 and nothing has come along from the Blue Oval to replace it. Still, the GT lived on as a great platform for tuners and racers.
One race team that has grown particularly fond of the GT is Matech Competition, and the Swiss team has already raced it to championships in FIA GT3 racing in Europe. The retro roadcar was never intended for racing, but like its forebearer, it is once again hunting Ferrari and Porsche racers on Europe's most famous tracks. After successes in GT3, the GT has shown it might be ready to move up in class. While the small independent Robertson Racing has run a GT in the GT2 class of ALMS for a few seasons with mixed results, it's Matech once again that will take on the next challenge – GT1.
For 2010, Matech has developed their GT1 version of the car that builds on lessons learned during the 2009 campaign when the team ran a prototype in the same class. Although similar in overall looks, Matech tells us that the two cars share no parts whatsoever. With an all-new formula for 2010, that's not very surprising, but 2009 was a development year for the teams. After the jump you can read the press release regarding the car's initial outing, and better yet, there's a video of it in action. The clip is painfully short but will give you goosebumps when the car sprints away. Besides its wonderfully melodic tone, the car looks plain badass, definitely up to the challenge being brought by GT1 competitors like the Nissan GT-R, Reiter's Murcielagos, Aston Martin DBR9s, Maserati MC12s, and our local boys the Chevrolet Corvettes. No wonder the clip is titled "Matech Symphony No.1." Top tip, Johannes!
[Source: Matech Competition]
The 2010 Matech Ford GT1 unveiled
As early as 2009, before the regulations of the new GT Championship came into force, Matech Concepts started developing a new Ford GT1 based on the prototype fielded in the previous season. On the way to the Portuguese circuit at Portimão, Matech Competition stopped in Spain at the Ascari circuit to perform the roll-out of the new car. With Thomas Mutsch at the wheel, the first metres of the Ford GT1 went according to plan, just as the driver and Martin Bartek had been hoping: "The car is completely new. Not a single element, be it the engine, the transmission system, the suspension or aerodynamics are the same as those of the Ford GT1 from 2009. The roll-out was very promising, and we are confident with regard the forthcoming season." The next step will be the "balance of performance" at Portimão on 3 and 4 February, followed by further testing at the Alcañiz circuit where a handful of previously selected drivers will take the wheel of the Ford GT1. This first stage will then be concluded by the presentation of the vehicle to the press in Paris on 1 March.
The driver pairings...
To determine the final line-up for the cockpits of the two Ford GT1 cars, Matech Competition has invited seven drivers to participate in a comparative test in a "special" Ford GT3 on the Portimão circuit. In addition to the five men – Mathias Beche, Yann Zimmer, Borja Garcia, Casper Elgaard and Carlo Van Dam – the group also includes two ladies, Natacha Gachnang and Cyndie Allemann. ''Our goal, clearly, is to form two teams that are as strong as possible by giving young drivers, including
women, an opportunity to compete. For these tests, they will be driving one of our Ford GT3 cars on which we have removed the ballast and the air-restrictor so that it will handle in a similar way on the track as the GT1," explains Martin Bartek. After this initial evaluation, there will be some candidates for further tests, this time in the Ford GT1 at the Motorland circuit near Alcañiz. Jonathan Hirschi and Marc Hennerici will join this test as well.