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Insight – Ford GT Mk II ‘faster than race car’

$1.2 million track-day car unlocks potential denied to racer by regulations.

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Ford is joining the select band of manufacturers trying to appeal to the very top-end track day market with a Mk II version of its GT supercar.

The GT Mk II, unveiled on the first day of the Goodwood Festival of Speed, is claimed to be potentially faster than the race GT that competed in the Le Mans 24 Hours last month.

Larry Holt, chief technical officer of Multimatic which designs and engineers the GT for Ford, introduced the Mk II at Goodwood. He said that it had been created as an answer to questions from customers as to what would be the ultimate performance version of the GT.

Ford launched its road-going supercar in 2016, built a race version that won its class in the Le Mans 24 Hours that year, and has just completed the 500th example of the car.

“This car comes from the dream of a racing car without balance of performance,” Holt said. “The road version of the GT has 650 horsepower, but at Le Mans we race it with 495hp mandated by the series to balance all the cars in the GT category. The rear wing on the racing car is mandated, you can’t have front wheel arch louvres, a number of things you can’t have.”

Ford GT Mk II The Car Expert
Larry Holt (by front wheel) describes the new Ford GT Mk II following its unveiling at Goodwood. Photo: Andrew Charman

“So this is a car not limited by race rules, or those of the road – it is strictly for enjoying on the track only.”

The upgrades to the Mk II do not centre on power, the 700hp put out by its 3.5-litre engine only 50 horses more than the same unit in the road car, though 200 more than the race version is allowed. The newcomer does weigh in around 150kg lighter than the Mk I, though the race car remains significantly lighter.

Where the Mk II really scores over its siblings, however, is in aerodynamics. Multimatic has been able to employ such aspects as louvres to the front wheels, a dual-element rear wing and a ‘next generation’ underwing that are not permitted on the race car.

“We are generating about 450lbs more aerodynamic downforce compared to the racing car and around four times the downforce of the road car,” Holt said.

Other elements bespoke to the Mk II include 19-inch wheels (the race car runs on 18-inch versions, the Mk I road car on 20-inch) and a higher performance version of the Mk I’s carbon-carbon brake package – the race car is limited to steel brake discs.

Ford GT Mk II The Car Expert

Inside the design of the cabin is completely new but with the instrument panel arrangement of the race car. A full FIA-certified roll cage is fitted, while also approved by motorsport’s governing body is a passenger seat – allowing owners to give their friends a memorable track ride.

Those owners will be few – Ford says that just 45 examples of the GT Mk II will be made, each at a price starting from $1.2 million…

Ford is not currently revealing performance figures for the GT Mk II, though Holt says that in extensive track testing the car has proven around 10 seconds a lap quicker than the Mk I road car. But despite the prodigious performance he contends that the lucky owners will not struggle to control it; “Ford’s philosophy is that we don’t deliver cars that are difficult to drive. This car still has the very benign driving experience of the road car – it flatters the novice but has the ability to kick all the other professionals’ ass…”

He adds that “everyone will ask” how the Mk II stacks up against the race car, which he adds is still significantly lighter than the newcomer and runs on a ‘confidential’ tyre only available to the team, whereas the MkII runs on slick tyres from Michelin that can be brought over the counter.  

“That tyre is worth four or five seconds – with confidential tyres this car would likely be quicker than the race car. It’s very, very quick…”     

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Andrew Charman
Andrew Charman
Andrew is a road test editor for The Car Expert. He is a member of the Guild of Motoring Writers, and has been testing and writing about new cars for more than 20 years. Today he is well known to senior personnel at the major car manufacturers and attends many new model launches each year.