- Shape-changing wing ‘improves track performance’
- GT’s customised drive modes for 2018 Fiesta ST
- Suspension for racing – or city speed bumps
BRENTWOOD, England – The pioneers behind the Ford GT supercar, the automaker says, “designed it not only to win races but also to be a test bed for new technology and future Ford vehicles”.
Raj Nair, Ford’s product development boss and chief technical officer, told The Corner in a media release: “The team, when it began work on the all-new Ford GT in 2013, had three goals. First, to use it to train engineers as we developed future engine technology, to stretch our understanding of aerodynamics.
“Then, to push the boundaries of advanced material use, such as carbon fibre. Finally, we set out to win the Le Mans 24 Hours.”
Ford combined several of its performance teams – Ford SVT, Team RS, Ford Racing, performance vehicle parts and merchandise licensing – into a group called Ford Performance. Dave Pericak, Ford Performance’s Dave global director, explained:
“Without such integrated teamwork it would have been impossible to deliver the all-new Ford GT in its current form. Collaboration was critical not only to bring the Ford GT back to life but also for experimenting with innovations.”
The 2005 Ford GT had a light aluminium alloy body. That led to using strong aluminium alloy in today’s F-Series trucks, shedding hundreds of kilograms of weight, while also improving capability, performance and fuel-efficiency.
“The GT’s role as a technology test-bed,” Ford says, ” is evident throughout the supercar. Some innovations – carbon-fibre, for instance, serve as longer-term possibilities, others are in production.”.
Customised drive modes help owners to fit their vehicle’s performance to specific conditions, the automaker explains. Track mode, already in the Ford Focus RS, will be available for the all-new Ford Fiesta ST from 2018.
Putting the dynamic in aerodynamics
Key goals on the GT were less drag and more downforce to maximise stability and grip while accelerating, cornering, or braking so the car’s aerodynamics change to meet varying driving conditions, thanks to moveable body parts, among them ducts at the front and a large deployable wing.
DUCTING AND DIVING
The flaps open and close depending on whether the GT’s wing is up or down to keep the car aerodynamically balanced, front/back, at any speed. “When the wing is up,” Ford explains, “the ducts close to increase downforce. When the wing is down the ducts open to decrease downforce.”
The wing, Ford says, has a patent-pending design that changes the aerofoil’s shape for maximum efficiency when fully deployed.
The compact six-cylinder design of the car’s EcoBoost engine also helps with aerodynamics by enabling the team to taper the body fuselage to dimensions more efficient than a V8. The turbochargers’ low positioning and putting the turbo intercoolers ahead of the rear wheels also helped with the tapering.
FUELLING THE ENGINE – AND BEYOND
The GT’s 3.5-litre, 486kW, engine, Ford says, is the most powerful EcoBoost unit yet and was developed alongside the GT race engine and the 3.5-litre EcoBoost engine used in the F-150 Raptor high-performance off-road bakkie which shares almost 60%of its parts with the GT’s engine.
Bob Fascetti, Ford’s powertrain engineering vice-president, told The Corner: “We pushed the engine’s limits beyond what we might consider in traditional development programmes, which is important as we continue to advance EcoBoost technology.”
The team, Ford added, also created anti-lag turbo technology to help maximise the GT’s ability to power out of corners: it keeps the throttle open when the driver is not pressing the accelerator. Turbo speed and boost are maintained despite the fuel-injectors being off, for instant response and acceleration when the pedal is again depressed.
The engine drives through a seven-speed dual-clutch transaxle for near instantaneous gear changes.
GET LOW, SWEET CHARIOT
Pericak added: “All the weight-saving and engine advancements were for one thing: the creation of the fastest, most-efficient, Ford GT yet.”
These technology includes the GT’s hydraulic suspension, which changes ride height at a turn of the knob that adjusts drive mode. The suspension drops the car by 50mm from Normal to Track. Track mode also raises the wing and closes the front splitter ducts to give the best downforce for track speeds.
Lowering the car also changes suspension spring rates, matching shock-absorber settings with aerodynamics. It can be raised, at less than 40km/h, to negotiate speed bumps and other road abberations.