N after 4,998 kilometers Full throttle separates the light blue-orange Ford GT 40 of the Gulf-Wyer team and the white works Porsche 908 long tail only the length of a football field. Whole 120 meters. Sunday, June 15, 1969, 3 p.m. local time: Jacky Ickx rushes to the finish line after 372 laps in the Le Mans 24-hour race with just two seconds ahead of Hans Hermann. In the last hour of the race there were eight changes in the lead between the two opponents - facts of an unforgettable heartbeat final.
The Ford GT from Raeder Motorsport leads the 24h race 2009
Almost exactly 40 years later to the day, 235,000 racing fans are stalling breath again. Again a Ford GT and a Porsche scramble bumper to bumper for the lead. The protagonists are no longer called Ickx and Hermann, but Adorf and Lieb. For six laps, an orange-white Ford GT Nobody from Raeder Motorsport leads the 2009 24-hour race ahead of the serial winner Manthey-RSR and the favored Audi R8 works teams. Happy ending like 40 years ago? Unfortunately, no. The new V8 darling of the Ring fans falls silent with a defective oil pump drive after 13th hour (Here you can find all information about the 24h-race on the Nürburgring )
But today the eight-cylinder bass is drumming so freely again, as if it wanted another swath of the Milling enthusiasm through the largest tent camp in the world. The smell of grilled ring sausage and canned beer still wafts through the GT cockpit when the first gear of the sequential gearbox clicks into place. When you look in the rear-view mirror, the 24-hour master of the heart is not followed this time by yellow RSR diffusers or curved R8 LED daytime running lights, but by two Ford GT brothers.
Three Ford GT racing versions in comparison at the Hockenheimring
Instead of Hatzenbach, Fuchsröhre and Brünnchen, this time it's north curve, Parabolika and Sachskurve: sport auto has the Nordschleife GT3 and the Ford GT from the FIA GT1 and GT3 from Matech Racing were invited to Hockenheim for a track test. A yellow production GT acts as a pace car to keep the pack in check. But already the dark blue GT3 with the number 1 shoots out of the slipstream and wants to tear the few spectators of the polyphonic V8 concert out of the colorful seat shells in the Motodrom.
'The GT3 is our basic model', hadMatech pilot Thomas Mutsch briefly explained beforehand. So, so - basic model. What sounds a bit like Dacia Logan falls under the finest racing car art. A five-liter naturally aspirated V8 engine from Ford specialist Roush Yates with 550 hp roars beneath the flat carbon fiber silhouette. Due to the better availability and the significantly lighter weight, Matech swapped the original 5.4-liter compressor unit for the five-liter vacuum cleaner after the first year of use in 2007.
Clack, Clack, Clack - Sixth, Fifth, Fourth. The sequential six-speed gearbox fires the gears up or down like machine gun salvos within 70 milliseconds. Thanks to the interruption of the ignition, gear shifting takes place without a clutch. Biceps power and vigorous pressing or tearing on the monumental gear stick are enough. Under full load, the two 46 mm throttle valves of the V8 snap open at lightning speed. From 6,000 rpm, it plows over the slope with a maximum torque of 600 Newton meters.
Playfully he brakes past the GT3 in the Sachskurve
But what is that? In the left carbon fiber exterior mirror, the matt black GT1 suddenly shoots up and effortlessly brakes past the GT3 in the Sachskurve. The biggest difference is hidden under the 15 centimeter wider bodywork. “The carbon fiber brake has clear advantages,” Mutsch later reveals the GT1 secret. However, the correct working temperature between 500 and 600 degrees Celsius is a prerequisite for optimal delay. In contrast to the 'basic model', the GT1 decelerates due to the regulations without ABS - if you hack the brake pedal too hard, the slicks quickly elicit white-smoking memory puffs with a Michelin aroma.
But it's not just the toxic carbon brake that makes the class difference. The heavily modified intake tract with eight individual throttle valves increases the output of the GT3 engine for GT1 use by 50 to 600 hp. Thanks to several wind tunnel visits to the Ford factory in Cologne, with simulation tests up to 200 km /h, the Matech engineers also significantly increased downforce compared to the GT3 model. Together with the underbody, the shovel-like front splitter, a modified rear diffuser and the rear wing with a double wing profile, the Ford GT1 achieves a maximum total downforce of almost 800 kilograms at 250 km /h. The double wing alone, consisting of the lower main wing and upper flap, offers 35 different setting options.
The 1,200 kilogram GT1 racer forgives hardly any driving errors
Depending on the wing position, the black flounder, together with the noticeably tighter chassis setup, achieves lateral acceleration values of up to 2 g (GT3 : 1.8 g). Thanks to the uncompromising coordination, the 1,200 kilogram GT1 racer hardly forgives any driving errors. The Raeder-Ford GT, which not only caused a sensation in the 24-hour race, is much more docile. Overall theNordschleife variant based on GT3, also developed by Matech, took pole position three times in the past VLN season and just as often secured the fastest race lap.
'With 8.09.748 minutes we currently hold the record on the VLN distance', says team boss Niki Raeder proudly. In Hockenheim, the VLN car tends to understeer, especially in tight corners with the soft Nordschleife setting of the KW suspension. In addition to the Dunlop slicks (GT1 and GT3: Michelin), the Ford GT competes on the ring with a different gear ratio. In addition, the carbon fiber underbody in the rear of the vehicle was replaced with a reinforced aluminum base plate for use on the undulating Eifel piste. 'For future Nordschleife customers, we will also be offering a ten-stage ASR in addition to the GT3 ABS in 2010,' explains development driver Mutsch. With a dull thud, the yellow production vehicle with 90-degree supercharged V8 sits down in front of the Matech racing armada and plays its pace car role perfectly.
On a lap of honor, the GT flounderers and testers slowly lower their racing heart rate again before they head back into the Hockenheim pit lane. Only the GT3 version will return to the racetrack in a similar form in the 2010 season. The 2009 GT1 moves to the ancestral gallery, while the VLN car is waiting for its next use on the Nordschleife. “However, we will start a new project in 2010 without the GT,” reveals Niki Raeder. And the engineers at the Matech development site in Mayen are currently working on piecework.
Continuation of the racing history of the Ford GT racing version
For the 2010 GT1 World Championship, the Swiss racing team is overhauling almost the entire GT vehicle. In addition to radical changes to the engine and transmission as well as the chassis kinematics, the new GT1-Ford is getting a significantly different bodywork than its GT1 predecessor from 2009. And where will the new World Cup car be seen? 'The GT1 World Championship is fixed, all other commitments are still open,' says Matech driver Mutsch. Dear Matech team, even if 2010 is no longer a round anniversary in the Ford GT racing history - a start in the legendary Le Mans 24-hour race would be the logical continuation of the racing history of the new Ford GT racing version after the fascinating Nordschleife in 2009.