2016 IMSA WEATHERTECH SPORTSCAR CHAMPIONSHIP
always been Ford vs. Chevy. It’s part of the
DNA of our automotive industry. Whether
we’re duking it out on car and truck sales,
or in the early days of NASCAR, or at the
drag strip, it’s been Ford vs Chevy.
“And now in road racing, with them
back, it’s Ford vs. Chevy again. It renews
that rivalry, and takes us back to that old
cliché: competition improves the breed.
We want to sell cars – that’s why we race.
And racing makes better cars for all of us.
Racing against each other is what makes
somebody better than the rest.”
The first salvo in this rekindled Civil War
took place in Florida, during January’s
Rolex 24 At Daytona, and the outcome was
just as expected: The battle-hardened C7.Rs
and Porsche 911 RSRs set a punishing
pace that only years of extensive
development could sustain. By the end of
that 24-hour span, all newcomers, including
Ford and the new cars from BMW and
Ferrari, were struggling in their wake.
Corvette’s 1-2 finish in IMSA’s GTLM
category at the Rolex 24 put every brand
on notice. BMW’s new front-engine,
twin-turbo V8 M6, and Ferrari’s new
mid-engine, twin-turbo V8 488 were
reminded that speed and reliability – at
least for now – wears a Bowtie. In the fight
among age-old contenders, Corvette
watched as Ford’s trick new mid-engine,
twin-turbo V6 GT spent 24 hours hitting the
pause button as electronics and drivetrain
issues intervened. When the checkered flag
fell, the leading Ford was some 32 laps in
arrears of the winning ’Vette.
“Coming into the year with a known
package, we knew we’d be in good shape,”
said Corvette Racing driver Oliver Gavin
after taking his first Daytona win. “We’ve
had a significant aero upgrade, but the rest
is basically the same. Compared with the
development curve Ford, Ferrari and BMW
are on to make their cars fast, raceable and
reliable, I’d rather be in our camp right now.”
Anticipating the GTLM story arc for the
rest of the season, proven models like the
C7.R and the 911 RSR will be tough to
displace as the other three marques
overcome new-car durability problems.
But considering the financial might and
engineering resources at the disposal of
those companies, Gavin knows any
reliability advantages could be short-lived.
“The people running all three of those
cars are world-class,” he says. “At some
point, they’re going to execute and win
races. The Ford in particular, even with its
struggles, was very strong. They’re looking
for the staying power to go with their
speed, but we’ve already got it. So, in the
early part of the season, we’ve got to keep
winning races, earning points and building a
While Ford’s new GT will chase GTE-Pro glory at the Le Mans 24 Hours,
the program pays homage to its four-straight overall victories there.
The first came 50 years ago in 1966 (ABOVE) – hence, Ford’s
U.S.-based cars running Nos. 66 and 67 in IMSA, and 68 and 69
at Le Mans (where its pair of WEC regulars will take 66 and 67).
66 (AND 67) FOR A REASON
Racing is GTLM/
king, winning the last
three 24-hour races
on the IMSA/FIA WEC
Former IndyCar star
Ryan Briscoe is part
of Ford’s high-powered
IMSA driver roster.