Fifty years after its first victory, to the day, Ford returned to Le Mans and won again, this time in the GTE Pro class with its EcoBoost GT piloted by Sébastien Bourdais, Joey Hand and Dirk Müller. Unlike 1966, Ferrari pushed them all the way this time, and by finishing 2nd the Ferrari 488GTE of Giancarlo Fisichella, Toni Vilander and Mateo Malucelli managed to rob the blue oval of a 1-2-3 finish. “Ford’s latest GT was optimized not only for its class, but particularly to win at Le Mans,” said Raj Nair, Ford’s chief technical officer. “We had some false starts and would have preferred to run the car in 2015 and then really make a run for the 2016 50th anniversary win, but we didn’t get the program approved in time.” Nair’s admission hints at the problems of working within a giant corporation with its multiple layers of administration hampering communication and delaying development, something that came close to ruining Ford’s original Le Mans effort 50 years before.
During the mid 1960s (1964-’67) the Ford Motor Company invested $25-plus million into its GT racing program and all because Signor Ferrari had said, “No!” At least, that’s how history portrays it.
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