The amalgamation of the Grand Am Rolex Sports Car Series and American Le Mans Series into what is the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship has left some questions on where teams and auto manufacturers would want to concentrate their efforts. An automaker used to bringing a winning attitude to every brand of motorsport they venture into, Ford Motor Company is preparing a new commitment to prototype racing. In 2014, the Daytona Prototype cars will be matched with the American Le Mans Series P2 prototype spec cars as well as the DeltaWing. In response to the change, Ford decided they needed to adjust on their racing product through the technology currently found on the street that includes the use of EcoBoost.
Aligned with Michael Shank Racing, Ford has revealed an all-new race car based on the Daytona Prototype architecture transitioning from the Grand Am Rolex Sports Car Series. Previewing all-new bodywork, Ford Motor Company had input in creating an aerodynamic shape that also captures the essence of Ford production vehicles. Crafted for the already existing Riley race chassis, the body panels were practically sculpted by Ford production designer Garen Nicoghosian and Ford Racing’s chief aerodynamicist Bernie Marcus. The appearance for the 2014 Michael Shank Racing competition car is perhaps as radical as the Chevrolet Corvette Daytona Prototype introduced during the 2012 season. Like the Corvette, the Ford critiqued Riley is gaining resoundingly favourable reviews on appearance alone.
Looking at race cars such as the 2014 Ford powered Riley, it’s humorous comparing it to the original Daytona Prototype sports cars that debuted in 2003. Homely looking race machines resembled disproportioned minivans, the so-called top class could not even keep place with the GT cars. An attempt to create a prototype class using lower cost and more standardized construction methods, the Daytona Prototype was a more affordable brand of sports car racing as opposed to the category where teams entered only to finish behind the technologically superior Audi prototype team. Progressions in the Daytona Prototype class cars have resulted in the handsome, fast vehicles motorsport fans have grown to admire.
Looking gorgeous at a standstill, a production sourced 3.5 liter EcoBoost V-6 powerplant tuned by Roush Yates Racing Engines insuring the race vehicle looks just as beautiful in motion. Twin-turbocharged and direct injected, the EcoBoost proved a dramatic departure when it made its way into Ford’s production vehicles. Applying the 3.5 liter EcoBoost engine to big league sports car racing will be an equally bold move for the Blue Oval. For so long, Ford Racing’s sports car success has been measured with eight-cylinder power. Starting with the Le Mans conquering GT40 that roared down the Mulsanne stretch with a 7-liter V-8 power plant, the generations of Ford powered sports cars have followed suit using a similar engine configuration. In the 2013 Grand Am Rolex Sports Car Series season, naturally aspirated 5-liter V-8 engines propelled Daytona Prototypes. Providing Roush Yates Racing Engines what will be a great challenge, preparing the twin-turbo EcoBoost V-6 is described by organization’s CEO Doug Yates as the future. “We’re looking at taking it to the next level through this sports car racing program.”, said Yates regarding the engine. The Ford EcoBoost race engine has already been operating through endurance testing ahead of its baptism by fire; the 2014 Rolex 24 at Daytona.
Michael Shank Racing has been active in the Daytona Prototype class of the Grand Am Rolex Sports Car Series since 2004. Completing with Lexus power in the first three seasons, Michael Shank Racing shifted to Ford engines for the 2008 series. The team has often been regarded as a likeable underdog effort even though the group has won four races. The biggest win for Michael Shank Racing came with an overall victory in the full day race known as the 2012 Rolex 24 at Daytona. The team’s seventh season with Ford power, 2014 will definitely be big for the outfit.
In order to demonstrate the power of the Ford EcoBoost Daytona Prototype, a speed record attempt has been arranged at Daytona International Speedway for October 9th. Michael Shank Racing and Ford will place driver Colin Braun into the EcoBoost powered Riley in order to break a 1987 NASCAR record on the oval track. Bill Elliot’s 210.364-mile per hour average speed used to clinch the pole for that year’s Daytona 500 is set to be challenged by a modern Daytona Prototype. After the publicity act, the Michael Shank Racing will return with the Ford EcoBoost powered race car for the Rolex 24 at Daytona that will inaugurate the new TUDOR United SportsCar Racing tour.
Information and photo source: Ford Motor Company