Thom Taylor Staff Editor
April 1, 2016

In some ways it appears Ford has been messing with enthusiasts, for in an about-face it’s announced it will be heading to Le Mans with a V8-version of its EcoBoost V6.

Raj Nair, executive vice president, global product development, and chief technical officer, Ford Motor Company, announced the surprising switch to a small contingent of performance automotive journalists. Says Nair, “We are proud of our EcoBoost V6 efforts, but Ford has a legacy of winning V8s at Le Mans—did you really think we would show up with anything else?”

The V8 replacement has been on the front burner since before the season started according to Nair. “We fielded a valiant effort with the EcoBoost V6, and will continue to develop it for racing,” he told HOT ROD.” “It just made sense to go with V8 architecture and make it easier for the engineers, technicians, and drivers.”

The replacement V8 program started before Christmas, and immediately showed such improvement it could not be ignored. “We have thousands of hours of track time, and can’t believe the numbers and durability of the V8,” says Nair. “We knew going in that the V8 could handle it.” Ford currently has a two-team, four-car effort – operated by Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates. By the time you read this all four cars will have been reconfigured for V8 power.

Modifications to the cars will involve changes to the carbon fiber bulkheads of the chassis, and engine covers; but everything else will remain almost the same as the V6 versions. “We had a bit of trouble packaging the dry sump system, and had to make changes to the engine covers,” said Nair, “but we actually improved aerodynamics and only added a 17 pounds.”

Ford has been experiencing problems not so much with its EcoBoost engines but with transmissions, which Nair addressed. “We told our teams to soldier-on with the current reliability issues, and that Recardo has a whole new gearbox ready for the V8 conversions,” he said. “We just couldn’t justify changing one without changing the other.”

Ford would not reveal anything about the internals of its racing V8, but it did allow HOT ROD to take a couple of shots around a heavily guarded specimen for Ford enthusiasts to drool over. We can’t wait for Le Mans to see these bad boys in action, and hear that V8 music to our ears.