Ford’s Mustang in recent generations has been making the transition from boulevard cruiser to bona fide sports car, and the seventh-generation ‘Stang revealed on Wednesday at the 2022 Detroit auto show looks set to finally cement this with an extensive racing program that will include a return to the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
The new Mustang is set to compete across a wide spectrum of racing series, including NASCAR, IMSA SportsCar Championship, and Australia’s Supercars series, as well as in various GT3 and GT4 competitions around the globe. With confirmation the Mustang will race at Le Mans, the World Endurance Championship can be added to that list. Le Mans is the premier event on the WEC calendar, similar to the 24 Hours of Daytona on the SportsCar Championship calendar, and has seen a Mustang compete in 1967 and 1997.
A new Mustang GT3 is being developed and will be eligible to compete in the WEC’s GT classes as soon as 2024, so the Mustang won’t be chasing outright victory in the Hypercar class. The Mustang GT3 will also be the basis for the race cars competing in the GT classes of the SportsCar Championship. This means it will compete against race cars based on the likes of the Aston Martin Vantage, Chevrolet Corvette, Mercedes-Benz AMG GT, and Porsche 911.
Ford hasn’t said whether it plans to field cars directly at Le Mans, or whether it will partner with a race team, similar to its partnership with Chip Ganassi Racing for the GT supercar’s successful run at Le Mans in recent years. It will run a factory team fielding two of the Mustang GT3s in the SportsCar Championship’s GTD Pro class.
Ford also plans to offer the Mustang GT3 to customer teams, meaning it could compete in other GT3 competitions around the globe.
The race car is being developed in partnership with Multimatic, the Canadian motorsports and engineering company that builds the GT for Ford, as well as the more recent Bronco DR racer. It will run a unique version of the familiar 5.0-liter V-8. The engine is being developed by Ford Performance and will be supplied by M-Sport, the British motorsport and engineering company responsible for recent Ford rally cars, including the Ford Puma-based car competing in the 2022 World Rally Championship.
The Mustang GT3 will also feature an unequal-length double-wishbone suspension front and rear, a rear-mounted transaxle gearbox, carbon-fiber body panels, and of course an aero package developed to meet GT3 rules.
Joey Hand, one of the class-winning drivers in Ford’s 2016 24 Hours of Le Mans campaign, will serve as a test and development driver for the program, alongside his current NASCAR duties.
The Mustang GT3 isn’t the only new Mustang racer in the works. Ford has also announced a Mustang Dark Horse R that could potentially compete in a new one-make series.
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