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Fifty years on from clean sweep, Ford’s back in force at Le Mans

FIFTY years on from a famous clean sweep of the podium, Ford is returning to Le Mans 24 hours, the organisers have confirmed.

All four Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GTs will compete for GTE Pro class glory at the world’s greatest motor race, which takes place on June 18-19.

The cars have have been given the races numbers #66 through to #69 to recognition of the four consecutive years that Ford won at Le Mans with its Ford MkII, the MkIV and the GT40.

“It was great to see all four Ford GTs up there on the Le Mans entry list,” said Dave Pericak, Ford Performance global director.

“Newcomers are by no means guaranteed an entry, whatever their history or ambitions, so we thank the ACO for giving Ford the opportunity for a four car assault in June.”

The Ford GT racing car is based on the all-new Ford GT supercar. With state-of-the-art aerodynamics, lightweight carbon fibre construction and a powerful and efficient Ford EcoBoost engine, the Ford GT has been built to go head-to-head with the GT establishment – Ferrari, Corvette, Porsche and Aston Martin – in the ultimate endurance battle.

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“I’m very happy that we can run all four Ford GTs at Le Mans,” said Ganassi.

“It will be a big challenge for us but one we are thrilled to undertake. We have prepared well and can’t wait to get the Ford GTs onto the track there and show everyone what they can do.”

The drivers listed for the two US-entered Fords are Marino Franchitti (#66) and Olivier Pla (#67), and the pair in the two WEC entries being run from premises in the UK are Joey Hand (#68) and Ryan Briscoe (#69).

The entry will be 60 rather than 58 cars after the ACO brought forward its expansion of the pitlane.

It had originally been intended to expand by two pits for 2016 and two for ’17.

Porsche has also been allocated two entries in GTE Pro despite its withdrawal of its full-factory Manthey team from the WEC.

Two full WEC entries from each of the factory AF Corse Ferrari team and Aston Martin Racing, plus the two Corvette Racing Chevrolets bring the GTE Pro entry to 14 cars.

The LMP1 entry is headed by three pairs of factory cars from Porsche, Audi and Toyota.

Porsche and Audi have downscaled their respective Le Mans campaigns from three to two cars, a joint cost-cutting move announced last November.

They are joined by privateer P1 entries from Rebellion Racing and the ByKolles team.

A total of 22 LMP2 cars are on the expanded entry.

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