Multimatic Motorsports racing driver Scott Maxwell is running the new, track-day-focused Ford GT Mark IIâ€”or Ford GT MkII, if you preferâ€”up Lord Marchâ€™s driveway for the Goodwood Festival of Speed on July 4. So itâ€™s a Canadian driver charging up an English hill in the most American of supercars on Americaâ€™s birthday, all to introduce the latest version of Fordâ€™s beastly GT.
The Mark II isnâ€™t street-legal but at the same time eschews the Automobile Club de lâ€™Ouest (ACO) rules that allowed the mid-engined GT to compete at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and other endurance events. The new carâ€™s 3.5-liter twin-turbo V-6 combines a high-flow exhaust, straight exhaust pipes, a higher-spinning turbo, a rooftop air intake, and the Mark Iâ€™s port injection to boost output from 647 horsepower at 6,250 rpm to 700 at 6,350, but the carâ€™s entire purpose is shredding apexes rather than Mulsanne Straightâ€“conquering high top speeds. That mission is further aided by non-ACO-legal pieces like the front dive planes and the huge, fixed rear wing no one could miss.
The dive planes and shelf-like wing help produce â€œsignificantly more downforce,â€ says Larry Holt, principal of Multimatic Incorporated, the carbon-fiber specialist that builds all Ford GTs in its Ontario factory. Indeed, the Mark II is said to produce 1,800 to 1,900 pounds of downforce at 150 mph, 350 pounds more than the race car. The prominent front splitter joins the other aerodynamic aids as violating both ACO and street legality, and it protrudes enough to add 5 to 7 percent of front downforce. The rear diffuser is the same as used on the Le Mansâ€“running GTs.
Those cars were restricted to 495 horsepower in last Juneâ€™s 24 Hours of Le Mans, and also carried significant ballast in the name of more competitive GTE-class racing. The GTs weighed 2,844 pounds, though while the Mark II track car doesnâ€™t have to carry ballast, it checks in at about 3,065 pounds. But thatâ€™s still a hefty 290 or so fewer than the street car, thanks to a lack of pesky airbags and other federally required pieces.
A recalibrated Getrag eight-speed dual-clutch transmission replaces the street carâ€™s seven-speed Ricardo. Lower rear intake scoops have been added to cool the transmission, while the installation of the dual clutch/transmission cooler eats up rear trunk space. â€œItâ€™s a really, really sweet package,â€ Holt says of the dual cooler. â€œYou probably could completely run yourself out with this car and not have any cooling issues.â€
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While the Le Mans car ran with 18-inch iron rotors, the Mark II is fitted with 20-inch carbon-ceramic discs, as well as a retuned Bosch anti-lock system. The car runs on 19-inch Michelin racing rubber, a discontinued â€œconfidentialâ€ tire resurrected specifically for the Mark II. The suspension features new and unique billet-machined uprights and new tie-rod ends. The Ford GT Mark II track car throws out the road carâ€™s adjustable suspension and active spring rates for fixed spring rates and two-stage dampers that allow just 15 percent variance (versus 40 percent) between high- and low-speed settings.
Inside, the instrument cluster from the street car remains, with a Motec display that can download all your track times for later analysis. There are two custom Sparco FIA-certified seats and new carbon-fiber moldings and parts, a full race cage, and a racing steering wheel. The GT road carâ€™s switchgear and paddle shifters are retained. The door glass is fixed, and thereâ€™s a full fire-suppression system.
Ford will build 45 Mark IIs, and theyâ€™ll count against its previously stated total production of 1,350 GTs. (Fewer than 500 have been built so far.) Holt says he expects to build five to seven Mark IIs before the end of this year, and 15 per year after that. Base price of the Ford GT Mark II will be $1.2 million, which includes the white paint from the GT4 Mustang. Other colors and liveries are among the options, which also includes built-in air jacks and track-focused air conditioning, although Holt figures most buyers will use their own cooled race suits instead.
Asked whether Porsche provided inspiration for the Ford GT Mark II, Holt replied, â€œnot only those guys, but Aston Martin, Porsche, Ferrari, McLarenâ€â€”they all make customer track-day cars. â€œSome of those cars are very daunting to drive. This is not one of them. The question has always been there since the beginning,â€ Holt said. â€œWhat could you do without rules?â€
â€œOur mantra is to reward the expert and flatter the novice,â€ added Hau Thai-Tang, Ford Motor Companyâ€™s chief product development and purchasing officer. Pricing, regulatory issues, and homologation are the manufacturing concerns for cars like the road version of the Ford GT, Thai-Tang said. The roadgoing GT started delivery in 2017 with a base price of $450,000.
â€œWhat if you were to remove all those constraints?â€ he said. It is â€œthe ultimate expression of the Ford GT, without any restrictions on balanced performance,â€ with optimized aerodynamics, powertrain and cooling.
On which circuits is the Ford GT Mark II best suited for track days? â€œNot Laguna Seca. Itâ€™s too loud,â€ Holt said, referencing the surrounding areaâ€™s notorious reputation for being sticklers on noise. He likes Calabogie Motorsports Park in Ontario, where Multimatic carried out testing, as well as Watkins Glen, Mosport, Sears Point, or the private Monticello Motor Club. But â€œif youâ€™ve got 10 guys who want to go to Mid-Ohio, we can make that happen,â€ he said.
Asked whether Ford can make money with the GT Mark II, even at $1.2 million eachâ€”so, $54 million in gross sales before optionsâ€”considering all the expensive racing kit, Thai-Tang said that Ford doesnâ€™t â€œdo things to lose money.â€ Thatâ€™s a good thing for the remaining 850 or so customers, as is the fact that there are also Mark III and Mark IV versions in the Ford GTâ€™s history.
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