When news first broke that the new 2017 Ford GT road car would use the same 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine that was race-honed by the Ford EcoBoost/Riley Daytona Prototype in IMSA, we were overcome with two emotions.
The first of these was shock, as-in “Why does the new Ford GT not have a V8?” The second was excitement, as-in “Ford is putting a proven, race-honed engine into a road car? Sweet.”
Now that there is a brand new Ford GT race car, based on the road car first unveiled at the 2015 Detroit Auto Show, Automobile Magazine is asking the right question: Is this Ford GT racer a cheater car? In other words, has the 2017 Ford GT only been introduced to meet homologation rules so that the same EcoBoost engine can enter into a lower IMSA class?
Remember: the Ford EcoBoost/Riley DP competes in the top-spec Prototype IMSA class. Now, the same engine is also running with the lower GT Le Mans class in the Ford GT race cars, which could give it a distinct leg-up – although so-far, teething issues have kept that advantage from materializing.
Automobile‘s Marc Nordeloos writes: “The rumored $400,000 price is much higher than the road versions of the competition’s entries while the production numbers of the Ford are lower…” He proceeds to point out that competition cars from Porsche, Chevrolet, Ferrari, BMW, and Aston Martin are based on “road cars that are [more] easily available from your local dealer and are substantially less expensive than the upcoming Ford GT road car.”
It’s food for thought, to be sure. Perhaps Ford got so utterly swept away by the thought of a triumphant return to endurance racing on the 50th anniversary of the GT40’s 1966 Le Mans sweep that it put a ringer out onto the track, before it had undergone the requisite teething period. Or, perhaps the factory-backed Chip Ganassi team will learn quick, and work the kinks out in time for a strong 24 Hours of Le Mans showing.
Either way, Ford’s 3.5-liter EcoBoost found a clever way to work itself into a lower-tier race car.