Ford GT supercar production begins

The first road-going version of the all-new 2017 Ford GT has rolled off the assembly line in Ontario, US.

“When we kicked off 2016, we had two primary objectives for our Ford GT supercar – to excel at Le Mans, and to start deliveries before year-end,” said Raj Nair, Ford executive vice president, global product development, and chief technical officer. “We’ve achieved both.”

“The all-new Ford GT is a showcase of our strength in innovation and our commitment to delivering more for our customers – especially related to lightweight materials, aerodynamics and EcoBoost engine technologies.”

First Ford GT supercar

Originally unveiled at the Detroit Motor Show in January 2015, Ford Performance is now delivering the first cars to lucky customers around the globe, just in time for Christmas.

The race version won in its class in the Le Mans 24 Hours in 2016, living up to the iconic car that inspired its design, the GT40, which ruled the famed French circuit from 1966 to 1969.

The 2017 road-going Ford GT is powered by a 3.5-litre twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V6, which is said to produce some 595bhp.

Global production will be limited to 250 units per year, though Ford received more than 6,000 applications for the first 500.

Ford hasn’t confirmed the new GT’s price tag yet, but it’s believed to be around the £350,000 mark

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A look back at Le Mans 2015

So a couple of days after Le Mans, I find myself asking what makes a great race, and more so, was this a great race? It’s a question I can’t help but ask following this years 24 Hours of Le Mans, which has gained mixed responses from viewers on the quality of the race, compared to previous editions and the first two rounds of the FIA WEC, in addition to the endless comparisons FIA WEC finds itself in to F1.

What I did enjoy about this years Le Mans 24 was it was different, in the sense it felt more traditional in the way in which a sportscar race works, whereby the cars aren’t always together on track. We had cars together early in the running, and really until nightfall over the circuit, at the very front. Before a clear advantage was formed by Porsche leaving Audi to attempt to find a way back.

The unfortunate thing is whilst this was interesting, given the equal measures which Audi and Porsche went to to win this race, the expectation people had of the race, wasn’t of a dominant force coming forwards quite as early as it appeared to occur.

Audi and Porsche of course had relatives strengths in the designs of the cars, as has become apparent throughout the season. Audi on paper had the reliability factors and tire wear, whilst Porsche had a clear advantage on straight line speed and overall lap pace.

The reality is this years 24 Hours of Le Mans 2015 did not play out as predicted, qualifying did, however the race saw Audi having a advantage on tire wear. However Porsche didn’t suffer the reliability woes as was anticipated. holding the lead for most of the race and controlling the pace, disallowing Audi’s tire advantage to come to the fore. The layout of the circuit, also played into Porsche’s advantage, and allowed for Earl Bamber, Nick Tandy and Nico Hulkenberg to take victory on Sunday afternoon.

Once Porsche made it into the night, Audi had little chance to compete up front, throughout the night. Porsche came alive, particularly the race winning #19 with some amazing stints behind the wheel.

Dawn, and into the sunday was Audi’s chance to once again return to a competitive nature, and give us that close racing which we have become so familiar with in the FIA WEC in recent races again, that had become predominant at the start of the 24 Hours, unfortunately for Audi, it wasn’t to be. The Deck lids lifting off the rear of the car, effectively destroyed Audi #7’s chance, followed by a penalty for a bizarre move in a slow zone by Audi #7. If the chance wasn’t gone with the deck lid replacement, it was certainly over at the penalty, from then it was a clear victory for Porsche to come home for victory, despite some fastest laps from Audi, continuing to signify intent.

The other key factor in this race, was the sheer level of reliability of the manufacturer prototypes from Audi, Porsche and Toyota. None of these cars mechanically, as in the core functionality of the cars had any issues which led to retirement at any point during the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

The only issues we saw from these cars, where brake issues for the pole-sitting #18 later in the race, the decklid issues as previously mentioned for Audi and the bizarre incident which occurred on the route towards Indianapolis corner under the “Slow Zone” conditions, requiring Audi #8 to take avoiding action of GTE entrants, hitting the wall rather hard, and require a return to the pits for Audi to replace the front portion of the car. The repairs being completed in a matter of minutes by Audi Sport Team Joest, In addition to Anthony Davidson’s small contact in the Toyota TS040.

I do wonder if perhaps the fact we didn’t see race ending attrition in the leading LMP1 manufacturers, through mechanical issues is a reason for the race perhaps not quite not living up to the “greatness” it was potentially capable of.

The other major disappointment of Le Mans 2015 was the relative anonymity of Toyota. The Toyota’s haven’t had the pace all season, but to see them almost playing a non-existent part was cruel and felt very disappointing.

Toyota did say before the race, that the team is exploring a new hybrid system for next season, and if Le Mans was anything to go by, that can’t come soon enough. In an ideal world, this race would of become the ultimate three-way battle at Le Mans of Porsche, Audi and Toyota. Perhaps by not having Toyota in contention, it damaged the perceived quality of this 24 Hours of Le Mans, compared to previous years, which prevented it from being seen as an all time classic.

Nissan was in the first year of competition, and whilst the project had substantial positive press and a great deal of excitement following the Superbowl unveil in January, including from myself. The reality is the project has suffered several setbacks since January, and the concept we saw at the weekend wasn’t the exact concept which was proposed, and sadly it was clear going into Le Mans that Nissan’s first attempt at the 24 Hours of Le Mans since 1990 as a factory, was not going to be one without its challenges.

Those challenges certainly existed, The three GTR-LM Nismo’s failed to qualify within 110% of the lead LMP1 entrants, therefore being forced to start at the rear of the Prototype classes. The race wasn’t any easier, and credit to Nissan for trying to keep those cars going for as long as possible, despite spending a great deal of time in the pits after night fall, which admittedly wasn’t always for faults with the cars. The #23 certainly hit an object on the track during the night-time hours, seriously damaging the car with the loss of the bonnet, and suspension damage.

Two of the cars failed to reach the finish, the #21, despite Matsuda’s attempts becoming an official retirement first before the #23 had brake issues, finally retiring in the closing hours. #22 did effectively make the race, however was not-classified due to the inability to complete the required distance.

Nissan have a huge amount of development and issues to resolve before this project is anywhere near a competitive concept. I hope the team is given the ability to do so, the concept is an exciting, dynamically different concept to the other LMP1 competitors. We have seen front-engined Prototypes before, but relatively this concept, in 2015 is unique and that is something I would like to see be a success, rather than the failure some have concluded it as right now.

This is a series which right now is priding itself on innovative engineering solutions, so having an innovative solution “fail” isn’t in either Nissan or the FIA WEC’s best interests. It does appear Nissan will continue throughout the season, and into 2016, so I hope in that time, the competitiveness can increase, even if it isn’t ever victorious at Le Mans.

LMP2 saw a dominant showing by the ORECA 05’s, KCMG despite a few issues with the car on occasion, came home for a dominant result, unfortunately the same can’t be said for Thiriet by TDS racing, the team was running in a strong second, with the Oreca 05 looking fantastic, when the car was speared by a GT running car, ending the race for the team, with several hours to go.

Now I understand the excitement around Nico Hulkenberg’s success at Le Mans in the LMP1 class, and I understand for alot of people, LMP1 is really the only class which matters however Jota Sport shouldn’t be forgotten, nor should Mitch Evans.

The multiple GP2 winner completed some amazing stints in the ageing Gibson G155, alongside fellow young driver Oliver Turvey and team owner Simon Dolan to bring Jota from the rear of the LMP2 field to come home second in class. We need to remember that FIA WEC is becoming at least for Le Mans, a home for young drivers to demonstrate the skill, whilst F1 is becoming less of an option for them, due to a lack of availability rather than talent.

GTE PRO was my favourite part of the 2015 24 Hours of Le Mans, and to be fair the AM class was as well. The PRO battle between Aston Martin Racing and Corvette Racing whilst also seeing some periods of the race, having input from AF Corse, saw the side by side battles, that portions of the LMP1 battle lost.

Effectively the battle in this class, came down to attrition and drivers making mistakes, allowing for Corvette Racing to take victory over Aston Martin Racing.

Overall it also created that storyline of success for Corvette, in the face of adversity. The #64 being the only car to withdraw before the race started, when Jan Magnussen had a stuck throttle, leading to an incident in the Porsche Curves, ending the event for Magnussen, Garcia and Briscoe. Sadly for Corvette, Larbre competition, who field a privateer customer C7.R in the GTE Am class, also suffered issues, with a gearbox failure, ending the race for them.

Whilst Porsche had a dominant weekend in LMP1, claiming the 17th overall victory (inclusive of the Dauer 962 LeMans and Joest Racing’s TWR WSC-95 victories) and the 101st class victory for a Porsche at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, since participation began. The Porsche 911 RSR’s entered in the GTE ranks, saw mixed success and failures. The Porsche AG Team Manthey factory effort in GTE PRO saw one car retire with a engine fire, as was also the case in two other Porsche entrants throughout the course of the event. On the flipside, Patrick Dempsey, Pat Long and Marco Seefried managed a podium in GTE AM.

The GTE AM victory went to SMP Racing, following the retirements of the two leading Aston Martin Racing entrants, one having a hefty crash at the exit to the Porsche curves, thankfully Roald Gothe was relatively ok, whilst the second accident occurred at the Ford Chicane, ending the race rather disappointedly for AMR.

Overall Le Mans 2015 was a strong race, a very good race however not a classic race. It had the ingredients to be, and in a few respects it came up a little short. It was still a race I enjoyed in total, though I look forward to seeing whether the 2016 edition, brings everything together and gives us that true race for the ages, or at least my representation of what the “race of the ages” should be.

Le Mans should also not be compared to F1, the challenge is very different, and I’m happy an F1 driver was one of the pilots in the winning car, though I’m still not convinced a true comparison between F1 and Le Mans can be made or should be in fact made.

Thanks Formula1blog

Hulkenberg wins Le Mans for Porsche

Niko Hulkenberg (r), Nick Tandy (l) and Earl BamberNico Hulkenberg has become the first active F1 driver for 24 years to win the historic Le Mans race.

The Force India driver partnered Englishman Nick Tandy and New Zealander Earl Bamber to take the win for Porsche.

Mark Webber who was also taking part in another Porsche outfit. was a lap behind in second place with the Audi team in third.

Porsche’s victory ended a run of 13 wins in the previous 15 editions by Audi.

And it was a first success for Porsche, who returned to Le Mans last year after a 16-year absence from the top category, since 1998.

Porsche & Hulkenberg win Le Mans

As a Formula 1 geek who feels Nico Hulkenberg is a seriously underrated driver in the series, it is with great joy that I report his winning the 2015 24 Hours of Le Mans on his very first attempt.

Three drivers who have never given it a shot claimed victory in a marque that was determined to reclaim its Le Mans pedigree having been absent from the top step since 1998. Porsche ran perfectly while sister VW Group team, Audi, struggled with mechanical issues that prevented their continued domination of the race.

I’ll be honest, I was excited for Nico that he was running the race this year but felt Mark Webber, in the sister Porsche, would be the guy to watch along with Audi’s Benoit Treluyer. In the end, Hulkenberg and teammates Nick Tandy and Earl Bamber took the top step.

Some of you who attended the F1 race at COTA last year will recall Bamber taking the Porsche Cup win there. A great day for Hulkenberg who may have been wondering what life after F1 might be like given no team has given him a competitive ride. Perhaps this is the answer?

Results

Pos Class Driver Team Car Gap
1 LMP1 N.Hulkenberg, E.Bamber, N.Tandy Porsche Team Porsche
2 LMP1 T.Bernhard, M.Webber, B.Hartley Porsche Team Porsche 1 Lap
3 LMP1 M.Fassler, A.Lotterer, B.Treluyer Audi Sport Team Joest Audi 2 Laps
4 LMP1 L.di Grassi, L.Duval, O.Jarvis Audi Sport Team Joest Audi 3 Laps
5 LMP1 R.Dumas, N.Jani, M.Lieb Porsche Team Porsche 4 Laps
6 LMP1 A.Wurz, S.Sarrazin, M.Conway Toyota Racing Toyota 8 Laps
7 LMP1 F.Albuquerque, M.Bonanomi, R.Rast Audi Sport Team Joest Audi 8 Laps
8 LMP1 A.Davidson, S.Buemi, K.Nakajima Toyota Racing Toyota 9 Laps
9 LMP2 M.Howson, R.Bradley, N.Lapierre KCMG ORECA/Nissan 37 Laps
10 LMP2 S.Dolan, M.Evans, O.Turvey JOTA Gibson/Nissan 37 Laps
11 LMP2 R.Rusinov, J.Canal, S.Bird G-Drive Racing Ligier/Nissan 37 Laps
12 LMP2 G.Yacaman, L.Derani, R.Gonzalez G-Drive Racing Ligier/Nissan 41 Laps
13 LMP2 K.Chandhok, M.Patterson, N.Berthon Murphy Prototypes ORECA/Nissan 48 Laps
14 LMP2 M.Mediani, D.Markozov, N.Minassian SMP Racing BR Engineering/Nissan 55 Laps
15 LMP2 E.Brown, J.van Overbeek, J.Fogarty Extreme Speed Motorsports Ligier/HPD 56 Laps
16 LMP2 P.Perret, I.Bellarosa, J.Ibanez Ibanez Racing ORECA/Nissan 58 Laps
17 GTE Pro O.Gavin, T.Milner, J.Taylor Corvette Racing Chevrolet 58 Laps
18 LMP1 A.Imperatori, D.Kraihamer, D.Abt Rebellion Racing Rebellion/AER 59 Laps
19 LMP2 L.Roussel, D.Cheng, H-Pin Tung Pegasus Racing Morgan/Nissan 61 Laps
20 GTE Am V.Shaitar, A.Bertolini, A.Basov SMP Racing Ferrari 63 Laps
21 GTE Pro D.Rigon, J.Calado, O.Beretta AF Corse Ferrari 63 Laps
22 GTE Am P.Dempsey, P.Long, M.Seefried Dempsey Racing – Proton Porsche 64 Laps
23 LMP1 N.Prost, M.Beche, N.Heidfeld Rebellion Racing Rebellion/AER 65 Laps
24 GTE Am B.Sweedler, T.Bell, J.Segal Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 65 Laps
25 GTE Pro G.Bruni, T.Vilander, G.Fisichella AF Corse Ferrari 65 Laps
26 GTE Am F.Perrodo, E.Collard, R.Aguas AF Corse Ferrari 65 Laps
27 GTE Pro M.Sorensen, C.Nygaard, N.Thiim Aston Martin Racing Aston Martin 65 Laps
28 LMP2 S.Sharp, R.Dalziel, D.Hansson Extreme Speed Motorsports Ligier/HPD 66 Laps
29 LMP2 J.Nicolet, J-M.Merlin, E.Maris Oak Racing Ligier/HPD 67 Laps
30 GTE Pro R.Lietz, M.Christensen, J.Bergmeister Porsche Team Manthey Porsche 68 Laps
31 GTE Am P.Mann, R.Giammaria, M.Cressoni AF Corse Ferrari 69 Laps
32 LMP2 T.Krohn, N.Jonsson, J.Barbosa Krohn Racing Ligier/Judd 72 Laps
33 LMP2 M.Aleshin, K.Ladygin, A.Ladygin SMP Racing BR Engineering/Nissan 73 Laps
34 GTE Pro F.Rees, A.MacDowall, R.Stanaway Aston Martin Racing Aston Martin 75 Laps
35 GTE Am H.C.Chen, G.Vannelet, M.Parisy Team AAI Porsche 75 Laps
36 GTE Am A.Al Faisal, K.Giermaziak, M.Avenatti JMW Motorsport Ferrari 75 Laps
37 GTE Am J.San Chen, A.Kapadia, X.Maassen Team AAI Porsche 79 Laps
38 GTE Am P.D.Lana, P.Lamy, M.Lauda Aston Martin Racing Aston Martin 74 Laps
LMP2 C.Cumming, L.Vanthoor, K.Estre Oak Racing Ligier/HPD Retirement
GTE Am J.Bleekemolen, B.Keating, M.Miller Riley Motorsports-Ti Auto SRT/Dodge Retirement
LMP2 N.Leventis, D.Watts, J.Kane Strakka Racing Dome/Nissan Retirement
LMP1 S.Trummer, P.Kaffer, T.Monteiro Team ByKolles CLM/AER Not classified
LMP1 H.Tincknell, M.Krumm, A.Buncombe Nissan Motorsports Nissan Not classified
GTE Am D.Cameron, M.Griffin, A.Mortimer AF Corse Ferrari Retirement
LMP1 O.Pla, J.Mardenborough, M.Chilton Nissan Motorsports Nissan Retirement
LMP2 P.Thiriet, T.Gommendy, L.Badey Thiriet by TDS Racing ORECA/Nissan Retirement
GTE Am R.Goethe, S.Hall, F.Castellacci Aston Martin Racing Aston Martin Retirement
LMP2 P.Ragues, O.Webb, Z.Amberg Team SARD Morand Morgan/SARD Retirement
LMP1 T.Matsuda, M.Shulzhitskiy, L.Ordonez Nissan Motorsports Nissan Retirement
GTE Pro D.Turner, S.Mucke, R.Bell Aston Martin Racing Aston Martin Retirement
LMP2 N.Panciatici, P-L.Chatin, V.Capillaire Signatech Alpine Alpine/Nissan Retirement
GTE Am G.Roda, P.Ruberti, K.Poulsen Larbre Competition Chevrolet Retirement
LMP2 G.Hirsch, G.Paletou, J.Lancaster Greaves Motorsport Gibson/Nissan Retirement
GTE Am C.Ried, K.Al Qubaisi, K.Bachler Abu Dhabi-Proton Racing Porsche Retirement
GTE Pro P.Pilet, F.Makowiecki, W.Henzler Porsche Team Manthey Porsche Retirement
GTE Pro J.Magnussen, A.Garcia, R.Briscoe Corvette Racing Chevrolet Withdrawn

Source: formula1blog.com

Race day at Le Mans

The greatest race in the world, starts in less than an hour, so this is my final blogpost prior to the start of the 24 Hours of Le Mans 2015.

The starting order and starting drivers are as follows:

#18 Porsche Team Porsche 919 Hybrid –  Neel Jani P1
#17 Porsche Team Porsche 919 Hybrid – Timo Benhard P1
#19 Porsche Team Porsche 919 Hybrid –  Nico Hulkenberg P1
#8 Audi Sport Team Joest Audi R18 E-tron – Loic Duval P1
#7 Audi Sport Team Joest Audi R18 E-tron – Andre Lotterer P1
#9 Audi Sport Team Joest Audi R18 E-tron – Marco Bonanomi P1
#2 Toyota Racing Toyota TS040 – Alex Wurz P1
#1 Toyota Racing Toyota TS040 –  Sebastien Buemi P1
#12 Rebellion Racing Rebellion R-ONE –  Mathias Beche P1
#13 Rebellion Racing Rebellion R-ONE –  Alexandre Imperatori P1
#14 KCMG Oreca 05 – Richard Bradley P2
#26 G-Drive Racing Ligier JS P2 – Sam Bird P2
#41 Greaves Motorsport Gibson 0155 – Jon Lancaster P2
#38 JOTA Sport Gibson 0155 – Oliver Turvey P2
#36 Signatech Alpine A450B – Paul Loup Chatin P2
#46 Thiriet by TDS Racing Oreca 05 – Tristan Gommendy P2
#34 Oak Racing Ligier JS P2 – Laurens Vanthoor P2
#48 Murphy Prototypes Oreca 03R – Nathaneal Berthon P2
#28 G-Drive Racing Ligier JS P2 – Luis Felipe Derani P2
#43 Team Sard Morand Morgan Evo – Oliver Webb P2
#29 Pegasus Racing Morgan Nissan – Leo Roussel P2
#27 SMP Racing BR 01 – Nicolas Minassian P2
#42 Strakka Racing Strakka DOME – Jonny Kane P2
#37 SMP Racing BR 01 – Mikhail Aleshin P2
#30 ESM Ligier JS P2 – Ryan Dalziel P2
#31 ESM Ligier JS P2 Jon Fogarty P2
#40 Krohn Racing Ligier JS P2 – Joao Barbosa P2
#35 Oak Racing Ligier JS P2 Jacques Nicolet P2
#4 Team Bykolles CLM P1/01 – Pierre Kaffer P1
#22 Nissan Motorsports GT-R LM Nismo – Harry Tincknell P1
#23 Nissan Motorsports GT-R LM Nismo – Jann Mardenborough P1
#21 Nissan Motorsports GT-R LM Nismo – Lucas Ordonez P1
#45 Ibanez Racing Oreca 03R – Jose Ibanez P2
#99 Aston Martin Racing V8 Vantage – Richie Stanaway GTE PRO
#51 AF Corse Ferrari 458 – Gianmaria Bruni GTE PRO
#98 Aston Martin Racing Vantage V8 – Pedro Lamy  GTE AM
#97 Aston Martin Racing Vantage V8 – Stefan Mucke GTE PRO
#95 Aston Martin Racing Vantage V8 – Nicki Thiim GTE PRO
#91 Porsche Team Manthey Vantage V8 – Richard Lietz GTE PRO
#83 AF Corse Ferrari 458 – Emmanuele Collard GTE AM
#72 SMP Racing Ferrari 458 – Andrea Bertolini GTE AM
#92 Porsche Team Manthey Porsche 911 RSR – Patrick Pilet GTE PRO
#64 Corvette Racing GM C7.R – Oliver Gavin GTE PRO
#53 Riley Motorsports Viper GTS-R – Jeroen Bleekemolen GTE AM
#77 Dempsey Proton Racing Porsche 911 RSR – Patrick Long GTE AM
#88 Abu Dhabi Proton Porsche 911 RSR – Klaus Bachler GTE AM
#55 AF Corse Ferrari 458 – Matt Griffin GTE AM
#61 AF Corse Ferrari 458 – Raffaele Giammaria  GTE AM
#62 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 458 – Jeffrey Segal GTE AM
#50 Larbre Competition Corvette C7.R – Paolo Ruberti GTE AM
#66 JMW Motorsport Ferrari 458 – Jakub Giermaziak GTE AM
#96 Aston Martin Racing Vantage V8 – Stuart Hall GTE AM
#67 Team AAI Porsche 911 RSR – Xavier Maassen GTE AM
#71 AF Corse Ferrari 458 – James Calado GTE PRO
#68 Team AAI Porsche 911 RSR –  Mike Parisy GTE AM

Ok so excuse for a few formatting errors in the list. Hope for a safe enjoyable race ahead. I will be around for the full 24 Hours, so if anyone has any questions including if this is your first 24 Hours of Le Mans, you can email me or enter them in the comments below and I will attempt at least to answer them throughout the race.

Most of all, enjoy!

.

dd