Will the new Ford GT race at Le Mans?

Ford stole the spotlight here on the floor of the Detroit Auto Show this year with the reveal of the new GT. Its carbon-fiber chassis, 600-plus-horsepower EcoBoost engine and radical aerodynamic shape made sure of that, but flanking it with the debuts of the Mustang GT350R and F-150 Raptor didn't hurt any, either. Any racing fan looking at the new Blue Oval supercar, however, had to wonder whether Dearborn is planning on putting it on the race track.

The House that Hank Built is, after all, a known entity in motor racing. It may be canceling its V8 Supercars program Down Under, withdrawn its support from the World Rally Championship, and it's been years since it's competed in Formula One or Indy. But it still competes in the United SportsCar Championship, NASCAR, NHRA and a variety of motor racing disciplines. One of its most famous and celebrated of racing endeavors, however, came in the form of the original GT40 that brought Ford four consecutive victories at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, starting with a dominant one-two-three finish in 1966.

It's the 50th anniversary of that landmark win which the new Ford GT celebrates, but while the press materials made clear reference to that historical event, any mention of a return as was previously speculated was carefully omitted. That, according to Autosport, could come down purely to the ACO, the organizers of the event and sanctioning body for its associated series, which has yet to announce the revised format for the GTE class under which a potential Ford GT racer would compete in 2016.

Longtime Ford racing partner Multimatic is said to have closely consulted with the ACO on the formation of those rules, however, and assuming they're finally formulated to Dearborn's liking, we could be looking at a GTE-spec Ford GT to return to La Sarthe next year in celebration of that landmark victory half a century prior. Chip Ganassi Racing – which races under Chevy power in NASCAR and Indy but recently switched to Ford for its Daytona Prototype – is said to be in line to field the car on Dearborn's behalf.

If given the green light, it would be the first time Ford would field a factory effort at Le Mans since the C100 project under the Group C category in the early 1980s. A racing version of the previous Ford GT was prepared by Switzerland-based Matech a few years ago, but without factory support or notable success beyond the FIA GT3 European Championship. The Le Mans program would likely expand with entries in other series like the FIA World Endurance Championship or the United SportsCar Championship, but we'll have to hold on for official confirmation, and for the time being, Ford tells us there is no statement on the subject.

Ford GT Information

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