At the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) round in Spa-Francorchamps, we were fortunate to be offered a closer look at the Ford GT. Our focus was immediately on what we are calling the #BritPack car, #67 of Marino Franchitti, Andy Priaulx and Harry Tincknell. The photo above is the very same in post-race tech having completed the 6-hours at Spa in a GTE-Pro 2nd place. We got to it earlier in the day whilst still clean and for all of you who love your tech, remember, the images are all clickable.
First impressions are awe-inspiring, from the wing-doors to the reminiscent looks this is a car with a purpose. The two nostrils allow air to come in low off the top of the large bottom-lip splitter to be swept up the screen and fed to the rear wing. Here the car is fitted with dive planes, it will be interesting to see what extent they persist at Le Mans in a lower drag configuration.
Viewed from the corner, those dive planes are more evident, but what really stands out is the floor or sill under the door. It mates with the bottom edge of the door, giving a clean flat underside, whilst the scoop out of the bottom of the door channels air low along the side of the car to the exhaust exits. More on this later.
Onto the driving position; this is quite a controlled space, the seat is standard, and on the left in red you can see the fixing point for the now mandated nets that all GTEs carry. I particularly like the vent covers on the right, clearly the Ford parts bin has been raided! Note the lightened, drilled pedals in the footwell, and our eyes are drawn up to the tech on the dashboard and wheel. In addition to flappy paddles for gear-changing, we see 15 buttons on the wheel for everything from Boost, Start, Flash, Map, Kill, Radio, Pit (limiter) and we think FCY (Full Course Yellow/Slow Zone?). These are supplemented by further controls on the console to the right, plus the dash is dominated by the screen for rearward vision & passing traffic proximity.
Moving to the rear-corner and we have the wonderful flying buttresses linking the monocoque to the out-rigger /wheel arch that houses the rear wheel. It is remarkable how flat this area has been kept, and the slenderness of the upper and lower surfaces. On the right we can see some venting from the engine bay, but otherwise it is all smooth to ensure a clean flow of air to that all-important rear wing above & impressive diffuser below!
If anyone ever disputes that Engineers are not Artists we will forever show them this image! It is just stunning, packaged into this view the smooth under surface of the rear wing on its slender supports that transmit all that downward force into the rear of the car. Then the rear of the engine bay, with two slim pipes likely for air-conditioning condensate to escape (cabin temperatures are monitored and must be within limits at all times). And then my goodness that diffuser with its vertical fences to organise the rapid extraction of air from beneath the car so as to lower pressure and develop aero-grip.
Note – The one area Ford were not keen for us to see was the engine installation. For a view of the engine itself there is an excellent YouTube video below from Ford partners Roush Yates Engines.
Now looking into the rear wheel arch, beyond the fairly typical Brembo brake set up we can see the matrix, honeycomb shaped aluminium castings that give the corner of the car its strength and solidity. The pattern will be to minimise weight, whilst also being as strong and rigid as required. The yellow ‘waffle’ panel with black edging is the wheel arch lining, that if called upon will contain the damage from a tyre failure and is ‘easier’ to replace. Upper and Lower Wishbones can also be see as well as the point the half-shaft goes through into the engine bay.
Viewing the cockpit from the ‘passenger’ side, it is clear that for each button on that wheel, there is a huge mass of electronic computerisation going on! Given that, and those wide doors/sills which afford the driver tremendous protection, it is little wonder that the poor transponder signal on the Ford GT has been getting a little lost at times! This image also amply shows off the extent of the carbon use in the GT, which others have expressed is a unique feature for a GTE-Pro. Of course this car has been built based upon the drafted regs and as such is state-of-the-art. Can we expect to see this across the other manufacturers soon?
Looking down the side from the front of the door, we see the full extent of that flat carbon sill/floor. Also clearly here we can see the intercooler for one of the twin turbos. Looking at the Roush Yates YouTube video the final images show how the turbos are mounted well away from the engine, and given the location of those, the intercooler and exhaust exit, we can deduce it is a remarkably short exhaust leading to that raucous tone of the Ford. Ear-Ringing stuff!
These side floor lips when coupled with the bottom of each door form channels from either side of the nose. So whilst the Ford GT has what could be described as quite a ‘bulbous’ nose, we saw central air being taken up and over the car earlier, and here air is being swept away from under the car to either side and away. Very neatly and nicely done Guys! Chapeau!
A final point on the above shot, look how low the level is where the buttress goes across, how tight the door line comes down and the fact it barely rises as it disappears out of sight to the tail. Aero-a-go-go!!
We now arrive at the final corner of the car. Brembos looking great, look at the thinkness of those pads, the large (orange) cooling duct to the vented grooved disc, and the temperature paint that will support management of the front discs over time. You can just make out the upper wishbone connections.
For a final shot, we take a step back in awe at this machine. The air intake on top of the engine cover is quite shallow, barely impacting on air to the rear wing, the louvres over the engine bay are a beautiful touch. As we draw our eyes down the sleekness of that jutting out rear edge where the wing supports connect again demonstrates this car’s purpose. Also below the diffuser appears to commence its lift from ground-level at the centre-line of the rear axle, we suspect/speculate that the engine is canted forward and down on its leading edge to accomodate the lift in the floor.
An achilles heel…? Not sure we see one. Possibly the proximity of the exhausts to the rear wheels, but we are clutching at straws here. New-ness will be the other factor, but it has been said to us the IMSA cars have been gaining miles in race conditions, and getting results. Rolex24 niggles are a thing of the past and the WEC team, as you will hear, have done considerable testing including a 30-hour run at Aragon. So all looks set for the Return of the blue oval to the Greatest Endurance Race on Earth, Le Mans !