Between 2024 and 2026, Ford has catalysed their return to Formula 1 and a first foray into the Dakar Rally but the automaker has no plans on rivalling the recently victorious Ferrari hypercar at Le Mans.
In what can only be described as a battle of the ages, Ferrari and Ford predate modern regulations in Le Mans and are eternally imprinted in popular culture as a result of their efforts in the 1960s. With prototypes coming to prominence in the following decades vying for overall victory at the famed endurance race, both iconic automakers began to fade into obscurity in the top-tier category.
Now, 50 years later and after a regulation change to entice more manufacturers to enter Le Mans in the hypercar category, Ferrari has finally reclaimed the title of outright victory at the Circuit de la Sarthe.
Toyota, being dethroned after their impressive 5 years of dominance with menial competition from factory-backed teams were unable to quash the Ferrari hypercar, dubbed 499P of Alessandro Pier Guidi, James Calado and Antonio Giovinazzi. They managed P2, ahead of the likes of Cadillac, Peugeot and Porsche but this begged the question; would Ford ever make a return and reignite an age-old rivalry with the Italian automaker and add even more competitiveness in the World Endurance Series?
This question was posed to Mark Rushbrook, the Global Director for Ford Performance Motorsports at an exclusive Q&A on the Blue Ovals announcement to return to the Dakar rally. The manufacturer recently announced it would return to Le Mans with Ford Performance, albeit in the GT3 category with the Dark Horse Mustang. On rivalling the Ferrari hypercar, Rushbrook mentioned that Ford assesses specific motorsports around the world and the chain of command goes straight to the top to determine viability.
For the short term, they don’t have any intentions to dethrone the recently crowned Ferrari hypercar but they regularly review the aforementioned motorsports. For now, Ford Performance will have their Mustang GT3 compete in the series, but that may be as far as it goes for the next few years.
“… as with all racing, we’re not just racing to win, we’re also racing to help build better products for our customers.” – Rushbrook, on developing their Dakar bakkie for 2024 onwards.
In terms of financial viability, each of these ventures is a costly exercise and Ford logically has to remain prudent with the battles they choose. Regardless, here is to hoping we can see a Ford v Ferrari reboot for generations to come!