Against the backdrop of the world’s most famous endurance race, Ford Performance today unveiled the highly anticipated Mustang GT3 one year after the company’s return to the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
“Ford and Le Mans have been linked through history,” said Ford Motor Company CEO Jim Farley. “And now we come back to the most dramatic, most rewarding and most important race in the world. It’s not Ford versus Ferrari anymore. It’s Ford against everyone. Going back to Le Mans is the beginning of building a global motorsports business with Mustang, just like we are doing with Bronco and Raptor off-road.”
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While Ford is keen to repeat previous successes at Le Mans, most recently in 2016 with the GT, but going back to its streak of victories in the late 1960s with the GT40, it is the convergence of GT sports car racing under the GT3 platform in 2024, where GT3 cars can compete at Le Mans and in the World Endurance Championship, the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, SRO’s GT World Challenge series around the world, and countless other championships and races, which has pushed Ford into the ever-growing GT3 jumping pool.
“It came about for a lot of different reasons,” said Mark Rushbrook, global director at Ford Performance Motorsports ahead of the unveiling. “Part of it is internal to our business and the way we can value motorsport in new and different ways than before. But it’s also a lot of what’s happened in the racing world, especially in sports car racing. And with the convergence of the GT classes, we can race with one car, one designed and one homologated car worldwide.
“In factory races, in IMSA where it’s appropriate to do it, but in the rest of the world in series like WEC, including Le Mans, SRO – we can race in real customer races, getting Mustangs there for customer teams to compete with. And that’s good for us because the Mustang is one of our icons. It’s a halo for us in many ways. And since we’re committed to the seventh-generation Mustang for the road with a full lineup of vehicles, we do the same on the track.”
Based on the Mustang Dark Horse, the pinnacle of performance in the 2024 Mustang lineup, the Mustang GT3 has been co-developed with Multimatic, who will run the car in the IMSA GTD PRO competition while Proton Competition campaigns with the car in the WEC. Development of the 5.4-litre Coyote V8 engine was carried out by M-Sport, Ford’s partner in the World Rally Championship. The Mustang GT3 features revised engine placement, custom short-long arm suspension, rear-mounted transaxle, carbon fiber body panels and a unique aerodynamic package. One of the standout elements of that aero package is the gooseneck mount for the rear wing that mounts to the car midway between the rear and the roof.
“It is very good functionally, to fit into a good structure and provide clean airflow. But it is also very striking from a visual perspective,” Rushbrook told RACER, adding some other technical elements of the car.
“The vents in the fender, the way the air is directed to flow – not just over the car and under the car, but through the car to efficiently achieve the drag and downforce targets we need, but also the And then it takes that great naturally aspirated Coyote V8 engine, working with M-Sport as a great engine partner to develop that and hit the power goals we need to be competitive in the class.
“We are able to get the engine in the race car a little bit lower, a little bit further back to give it better inertia characteristics and a lower center of gravity and also reduce yaw inertia. So it really works with Multimatic as a great vehicle engineering partner to optimize every system, every component in the car for optimum performance on the track.”
The Mustang GT3 was presented in a colorful Troy Lee-designed livery, complete with the new Ford Performance logo that will be applied to all of the company’s racing cars. Rushbrook says that while Ford Performance doesn’t expect teams to copy the livery, they would like to get some common elements from it.
In addition to Proton and Multimatic piloting the car in their respective championships, Ford Performance hopes to see the car in the hands of customers competing around the world, and the company has answered questions from teams looking to campaign the car in various championships and race . Rushbrook said the aim is to supply as many cars as demand requires.
In addition to the Mustang GT3, which will make its competitive debut at the Rolex 24 at Daytona in 2024, the Mustang Dark Horse will also form the basis of a new GT4 car and spawn two other track versions, the R and S.
Story originally appeared on Racer