Ford GT Finishes Rolex 24 Despite Technical Issues

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Rolex 24 Ford GT - IMG_2691- FTE

This past weekend was the debut of the Ford GT race car at the Rolex 24 hour race at Daytona International Speedway, and we were on hand to witness history as the two Ford GTs took to the track in the GTLM category. Thankfully, both cars finished the race, though the didn’t do as well as some had hoped.

Rolex 24 Ford GT - IMG_2312- FTE

The race started out strong, with the driver for the #66 GT, Joey Hand, with the first stint. He was fast and aggressive, quickly laying waste to the Chevrolet Corvettes and the Porsche 911s to take the lead. As it turns out, Joey was motivated for another reason;

I was also pretty excited to be the first one to lead a lap in this car. I hustled it after that last restart to try to get ahead of that Porsche to try to lead a lap, NASCAR-style. I thought there was a point or something for that. But, come to find out there is not.

No, Joey, it’s not NASCAR. But it was still pretty awesome to see the Ford GT take the lead in the class early on in the race.

Rolex 24 Ford GT - IMG_2659- FTE

In fact, when the cars were running properly, they were consistently fast, setting some of the fastest lap times in the class. But both cars were plagued with gearbox issues throughout the evening and spent a good deal of time in the garage.

Overall, both vehicles finished the race, with the #66 car finishing 7th in class, and the #67 car finishing 9th. All-in-all, it’s not a bad first showing of a brand new race car and a brand new racing program.

Rolex 24 Ford GT - IMG_2404- FTE

Most of the car’s engine components come from the Daytona Prototype models, since they’re all 3.5L EcoBoost V6 engines. In fact, they are similar in a lot of ways to the engine you can purchase in your Ford F-150. That’s why Ford goes racing; so they can make better components for their street cars.

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Ford’s Raj Nair, chief technical officer, echoed the positive attitude, despite the finish;

We certainly had our share of reliability issues, and that is not uncommon in a brand new car’s debut. As we have said, the first time these two particular cars hit the road was literally at the Roar (Before the Rolex 24) test here a couple weeks ago. Aspects of our total testing program had gone very well, so I think we’re a little surprised at some of the reliability issues we have had.

The next big outing for the Ford GT here in the United States is the 12 Hours of Sebring in March. Assuming they have their gearbox issues sorted by then, they’ll have a very fast and very competitive car to go after Chevrolet and Ferrari with.

What do you think of the results? Are you surprised? Let us know what your thoughts are over in our forums!

photos via [Bryan Redeker]

Chad Kirchner is a regular contributor to Corvette Forum and Ford Truck Enthusiasts, among other auto sites.

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