SAINT-GERMAIN-EN-LAYE, France – Ford partnered again with the Le Mans Classic in 2012 as the event celebrated “Americans in Le Mans” at the weekend.
Over the last 10 years, the Le Mans Classic has become an unmissable event for automobile enthusiasts and unique in how it brings together the most spectators of any motor race in France.
Le Mans holds a very special place in Ford’s racing heritage, and the company has been a faithful partner of the Le Mans Classic since 2004. This year, Ecurie Ford France returned to the race fielding an iconic car, while two of Ford’s latest performance models from around the world were put through their paces on the track over the weekend.
Ecurie Ford France chose a superb 1968 Ford GT40 Mk1 to race in this unique event. The car competed in Grid 5, for models having participated in the 24 Hours between 1966 and 1971, and recalled the brand’s four victories at Le Mans between 1966 and 1969.
Jim Farley, Ford Motor Company’s group vice president for global Marketing, Sales and Service, was one of a team of three drivers who piloted the GT40 around the legendary race track over the weekend. The other drivers were French motoring journalists.
“There is no more iconic Ford race car than the GT40 and I was thrilled to be driving one at the 2012 Le Mans Classic on the very circuit it took by storm in the late 1960s,” said Farley.
While the GT40 competed in the Classic itself, Ford also showcased, for the first time in France, two of its brand new performance models from around the world.
New for Ford in Europe is the Focus ST, with its 250 hp, 2.0-litre EcoBoost engine. Twelve 5-door ST hatchbacks and ST station wagons ran around the full 24-hour track for parades and track experiences between the races.
Joining the Focus STs was another very important guest which crossed the Atlantic especially for the event. The new 2013 Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 hides the most powerful mass-produced 662hp V8 engine in the world behind the famous cobra motif on its front grille.
Ford and Le Mans: a long history
Ford has had a special relationship with the Le Mans 24 Hours Race since it ran a Ford Model T Montier in the very first edition in 1923. Ford cars made many appearances through the years in Le Mans, but in 1966, Ford became the first American brand to win the race. This victory, followed by three others in 1967, 1968 and 1969, all with the GT40, definitively sealed the links between Ford and the most famous endurance race in the world.
In 2004, for its first official participation in the Le Mans Classic, Ford presented the modern version of its GT, alongside two historic GT40 models, a Mk 1 and an Mk 3. In 2006, the brand celebrated fifty years of its historic hat-trick victory by bringing together the three famous GT40’s of the 1966 podium.
2008 marked the renaissance of Ecurie Ford France, which had excelled in racing in France during the 1960s and 70s. For the occasion, the Ford T Montier from 1923 was completely restored and entered in the race, partnered with a Capri 2600 RS from 1973.
Ecurie Ford France attracted attention again in 2010 as the Ford T Montier returned to race again, and the crowds enjoyed seeing five specially prepared Focus RS cars, each painted in the colours of a famous Ford that had competed in the 24-Hour Le Mans race. These five unique Focus RS LMC cars were joined by a fleet of matt black Focus RS500s.