Ford vs Porsche at Le Mans

AL­WYN VILJOEN pre­dicts epic rac­ing at en­durance tracks as Amer­ica takes on Ger­many, again

The Witness - Wheels - - RACING -

THE or­gan­is­ers of the Le Mans 24 Hours, the ACO ( Au­to­mo­bile Club de l’Ouest), have con­firmed that all four Ford GTs have re­ceived a place on the pres­ti­gious en­try list for the 2016 Le Mans.

Fifty years on from Ford’s fa­mous 1- 2- 3 out­right vic­tory at Le Mans, all four Ford Chip Ganassi Rac­ing Ford GTs will com­pete for GTE Pro class glory at the world’s great­est mo­tor race, which takes place on June 18 and 19.

“It was great to see all four Ford GTs up there on the Le Mans en­try list to­day [ Satur­day],” said Dave Per­i­cak, Ford Per­for­mance global di­rec­tor, who at­tended Satur­day af­ter­noon’s press con­fer­ence in Paris.

“New­com­ers are by no means guar­an­teed an en­try, what­ever their his­tory or am­bi­tions, so we thank the ACO for giv­ing Ford the op­por­tu­nity for a four- car as­sault in June.”

The Ford GT rac­ing car is based on the all- new Ford GT supercar, which is the pin­na­cle prod­uct of the Ford Per­for­mance divi­sion. With state- of- the- art aero­dy­nam­ics, light­weight car­bon fi­bre con­struc­tion and a pow­er­ful and ef­fi­cient Ford Eco­Boost en­gine, the Ford GT has been built to go headto- head with the GT es­tab­lish­ment — Fer­rari, Corvette, Porsche and As­ton Martin — as they fight for vic­tory in the ul­ti­mate en­durance bat­tle.

Porsche de­fend­ers

For Porsche’s third sea­son since the re­turn to the highly so­phis­ti­cated top cat­e­gory of Le Mans pro­to­types, the cut­ting- edge 919 Hy­brids have been sig­nif­i­cantly de­vel­oped with the ba­sic chas­sis struc­ture and the pow­er­train con­cept re­main­ing the same.

Fritz Enzinger, vice pres­i­dent LMP1 said: “In­de­pen­dently from our sport­ing tar­gets, our most im­por­tant task is to gather knowhow for Porsche for fu­ture tech­nolo­gies. The WEC’s unique ef­fi­ciency reg­u­la­tions, with the huge tech­ni­cal free­dom, is the right plat­form for the com­pany to de­velop and test in­no­va­tions for road go­ing sports cars.”

Back in Novem­ber, Porsche an­nounced the driver line- up that goes back to 2014 would re­main un­changed: World cham­pi­ons Timo Bern­hard ( Ger­many, 35), Bren­don Hart­ley ( New Zealand, 26) and Mark Web­ber ( Aus­tralia, 39) will share the num­ber 1 car. The num­ber 2 sis­ter car will be in the hands of Ro­main Du­mas ( France, 38), Neel Jani ( Switzer­land, 32) and Marc Lieb ( Ger­many, 35).

The hy­brid sys­tem of the 919 com­bines cut­ting- edge down­siz­ing turbo tech­nol­ogy with ef­fi­cient fuel di­rect injection for the two- litre, four- cylin­der com­bus­tion en­gine, and uses a lithium- ion bat­tery to store elec­tric­ity from the brakes on the front axle and ex­haust.

The 919 Hy­brid pro­duces a sys­tem with power of al­most 900 hp and pro­vided Porsche with many im­por­tant in­spi­ra­tions for the de­vel­op­ment of fu­ture road- go­ing sports cars. The lat­est ex­am­ple is the 800- volt tech­nol­ogy for the purely elec­tri­cal pow­ered Mis­sion E con­cept car.

PHO­TOS: QUICKPIC

Porsche 919 Hy­brid ( 19) team ( top) Nick Tandy, Earl Bam­ber and Nico Huelken­berg will be look­ing in their rearview mir­rors for the new Ford GTs ( left) at Le Mans this year.

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