Even should you put apart the presence at Le Mans 2016 of each massive-notice Ford exec from Invoice Ford down, the seriousness of the corporate’s effort to win this yr was underscored in discussions this morning with international tech boss Raj Nair, one of many earliest instigators of the undertaking, and with two drivers of the ‘British’ No. sixty seven entry, Marino Franchitti and Harry Tincknell.
Speaking of the automotive itself, Nair made no bones about the truth that the GT wasn’t simply configured for GTE racing however was additionally squarely targeted particularly on this occasion. “It isn’t simply optimised for racing, it is constructed for this race,” he advised me candidly. “At Ford we’re pleased with having gained each main championship in world motorsport – F1, WRC, NASCAR, drag racing, you identify it. However even amongst these Le Mans is particular. There are only a few of our different victories we might commemorate after half a century by designing an entire new three-yr race undertaking.”
Nair lists the GT’s designed-in benefits as its full carbonfibre construction (lightness and rigidity), its refined air administration (particularly the best way it manages underbody air to maximise downforce and carry air in tunnels previous the engine to the rear wing) and its excessive display rake and low frontal space. The upshot right here – in response to Tincknell – is that in race trim the GT has a surplus of slipperiness that may be became downforce with out sacrificing prime velocity. “We have got sufficient velocity to benefit from the slipstream of different automobiles on the straights, however we’re additionally fairly good underneath braking and in excessive-velocity bends just like the Porsche Curves,” says the 24-yr previous.
Each Franchitti (driving at his sixth Le Mans) and Tincknell say they will drive the automotive kind of flat out, however with out leaping curves or punishing the brakes in methods that may “kill the automotive”. If that works, and also you’re in rivalry at hour 19 or 20, you begin driving the automotive as quick because it’ll go, they are saying. Removed from worrying about operating out of focus, even within the quadruple-stint simply in need of 4 hours which they could do – each speak about focus getting higher as you drive, and concerning the peace and tranquility of being by yourself out within the darkness of the Mulsanne Straight, the place it is simply you, the automotive, and your personal headlights displaying the best way. Not many people can think about tranquility at 190mph, however each drivers converse of it
Franchitti, a real scholar of motorsport, talks lots concerning the significance of this second, too. “That is nonetheless a household staff, he says, and at occasions like this you realize it. That is why so most of the firm’s prime individuals are right here. It isn’t simply an occasion to them. They’re hoping it’s going to add one thing necessary to their historical past.”