Ford announces Le Mans return

Four Ford GT cars are set to race in next year's Le Mans 24 Hours after the blue oval today announced a return to global sportscar competition.

The move comes in order to coincide with the golden anniversary of Ford's first Le Mans victory in 1966.

Ford is set to race with a two-car entry in the 2016 World Endurance Championship and Tudor United Sportscar Championship.

"When the GT40 competed at Le Mans in the 1960s, Henry Ford II sought to prove Ford could beat endurance racing's most legendary manufacturers," said Bill Ford, executive chairman of Ford Motor Company.

"We are still extremely proud of having won this iconic race four times in a row, and that same spirit that drove the innovation behind the first Ford GT still drives us today."

Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates will run the TUSC operation but will also bring its cars to make a Le Mans debut for the team at La Sarthe next June.

The first race for the new design will be the 2016 Daytona 24 Hours in January.

"We've won races and championships, but we've never run Le Mans," said team owner Chip Ganassi.

"When presented the opportunity to compete with the all-new Ford GT on the world's biggest sports car stage, and on the 50th anniversary of one of the most storied victories in racing history, how could any race team not want to be part of that? Will it be a challenge? Absolutely, but we couldn't be with a better partner than Ford."

The full WEC program for Ford will be run under the Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates banner but the day to day running of the squad is believed to be being put together by former Aston Martin Team Principal - George Howard-Chappell, who now heads up Multimatic's race operations as Motorsport Business Director.

The team will be based in the UK.

The Ford GT, which is a competition version of the carbon Ford GT streetcar, will be powered by the Roush Yates engineered 3.5-litre EcoBoost twin-turbo V6 unit which has already proven itself in the USC Prototype class. broke the news of the first Ford GT tests last month and has since learned that several key personnel are already in place at the team which will campaign the full WEC season next term.

Further development testing is planned for the Ford GT throughout the summer, before the car goes through its FIA/ACO performance measurement tests at the Ladoux test facility in late summer/early autumn.