Showing posts with label GT Racing Cars. Show all posts
Showing posts with label GT Racing Cars. Show all posts

Aston-Martin DBR9

Aston-Martin DBR9 2000s GT race car

Hitting the grid in '05, Aston Martin's DBR9 was the racing version of their DB9 roadster. Saying that, 20 DBR9s were sold privately. So, technically, it was a race/road hybrid. Though, whether you should do the shopping in a car that won the GT1 Sebring 12 Hours race, is a moot point. To be fair, it would get done very quickly - leaving you with more time to do good deeds for the rest of the day!

It is not hard to see why the DBR9 won at Sebring - a racetrack in Florida, USA. The fact that its engine churned out 600bhp had a lot to do with it. The power was fed through a 6-speed sequential gearbox - conveniently located on the rear axle. Cutting edge carbon brakes were duly installed - and not as an afterthought!

Light weight was key to the DBR9's success. Just 2,425lbs needed to keep contact with the tarmac. Contrast that with the DB9 road-going equivalent - which weighed in at a comparatively lardy 3,770lb. Much of the reduction was down to the competition car's body panels - fashioned from carbon-fibre composite. Aston Martin Racing designed the panels - with top-flight aerodynamics in mind. An aluminium chassis also shed weight. Aptly, the DBR9's Sebring win was on its first outing. For spectators of a certain age, it conjured up memories of Le Mans, '59. That was the scene of another famous victory for the great British brand. So, Aston Martin race fans had been patient a long time. But they say great things come to those who wait. Those words were never so true as in the streamlined form of the DBR9!

Ford GT40

Ford GT40 1960s American classic GT sports racing car

The Ford GT40 could have been a Ferrari! In the mid-'60s, Ford were in the throes of a Ferrari takeover. With the deal all but closed, though, their offer was snubbed. That displeased Henry Ford II - to say the least. Hackles suitably raised, he determined to come out fighting ... and hit Ferrari where it hurt. At the racetrack! The GT40 would be his weapon of choice. Fortunately, Ford were in a position to recruit race car constructor Lola to their cause. The British firm had just put the finishing touches to their Mk6 GT car. It had been fitted with a Ford V8 engine. Plainly, the prototype was packed with potential. Perfect timing! Ford leapt at the chance to bring Lola on board ... and duly acquired the rights to the Mk6. Eric Broadley - Lola's founder - would oversee the project.

Not that Ford would be taking a back seat. They would be styling the new car, for starters. Trouble was - for all their commercial success - Ford were not race engineers. The shape they came up with was aerodynamic - but not as much as it could have been. Lola could have made it still more slippery. That was their stock-in-trade, after all. Plus, Ford's plans for the GT40 included roadsters. Which would, of course, need to be factory-built. Thinking ahead - in terms of parts - Ford gave the go-ahead for a steel monocoque chassis for the GT40. It went without saying that it was relatively cheap. The specialised light aluminium tub Broadley had designed was surplus to requirements. So now, not only was the GT40 less aerodynamic than it might have been - it was heavier, too. Ford wanted to have their cake and eat it, too. They wanted a race car to beat Ferrari - while, at the same time, cutting production costs!

The proof of the pudding would come at Le Mans - in the form of the '65 24-Hour race. Sadly - to Ford's palate, at least - the pudding did not taste good. Ferrari won! The following year, though - after some winter-time fettling - the GT40 came on song. Indeed, it would win at La Sarthe the next four times out. The '66 and '67 campaigns were under Ford's own aegis. A privateer team took charge in '68 and '69. In the course of that string of victories, the GT40 did more than just win. It was the first car to notch up 3,000 miles in 24 hours - with New Zealanders Bruce McLaren and Chris Amon doing the driving. And after that - with Jacky Ickx at the wheel - the GT40 beat a Hans Herrmann-piloted Porsche to the flag, by a mere 100m. After a full day's high-octane racing, that was a pretty tight margin. To put it in context, the GT40 topped out at more than 200mph. As a sports car, then, it was anything but lacklustre. Its 4,727cc V8 engine made 485bhp. And no car wins four times on the bounce at Le Mans, without having something special going for it. The Ford GT40 was a fantastic racing car. It was just that - had Eric Broadley and his Lola colleagues been given free rein - it could have been even better!