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Doug Yates, president and CEO of Roush Yates Engines, said he was honored when the call came from Ford asking Roush Yates Engines to become part of its team dedicated to moving the new Ford GT race car into the winner’s circle. The Ford GT raced to victory in the 2016 Le Mans 24 Hours earlier this month.
“To represent the Ford family at such a historic event is a special moment for us,” Yates said. “That also comes with high expectations and we want to fulfill those expectations for the Ford family.”
The project started taking shape after several late night meetings in Mooresville, North Carolina, at the Roush Yates Engines facility. The team was assembled. They were given the objective to take the twin-turbo Ford EcoBoost V6 street production engine and shape it into a high-performance endurance race engine that would power the Ford GT in the 2016 24 Hours of Le Mans.
“For a group of engineers and engine builders this was a dream come true,” said Jon Giles, business manager for Roush Yates Engines.
The Roush Yates Engines team recognized that normal textbook solutions would not be good enough to win on the world stage at Le Mans, according to the company. They challenged everyone associated with the program (internally and externally) to push the envelope for new and innovative ways to refine and optimize the performance and fuel economy of the race engine.
Roush Yates Engines worked in partnership with Ford Performance on the quest to design, test and build the twin-turbo Ford EcoBoost V6 race engine. Starting from the street production platform and enhancing it to compete against the likes of Ferrari and sustain the grueling 24-hour endurance race reaching speeds of over 180 mph was something the combined team had to solve.
“The team was able to blend the fuel economy and performance technologies of the twin-turbo Ford EcoBoost V6 race engine and couple it with the Ford GT’s aerodynamics to make the optimal road racing performance package,” said Wade Riesterer, technical manager of road racing for Roush Yates.
The core Roush Yates Engines’ team involved in the project had more than 100 years of combined experience and included CAD engineers, the Cylinder Head team, Engine Assembly, Engine Teardown, Diagnostics/Simulation team and Calibration Engineers. Roush Yates Engines also leveraged its entire organization on the project, sharing ideas and collaborating with various groups of the organization, such as the NASCAR Ford FR9 Engineering team.
Each engine made for the project was hand built from the ground up, taking a total of 105 hours from start of production through final build and dyno testing. The heads came from the Ford Cleveland Engine Plant and blocks from the company’s Lima Engine Plant. The Cylinder Head team worked meticulously to hand blend the ports, while the Engine Block team utilized the Rottler F69A to hone the blocks to the nth degree of accuracy.
The main engine builder, Jimmy Snyder, started building engines when he was 16 years old in the local service station in upstate New Jersey. Today, he is hand assembling the four twin-turbo Ford EcoBoost V6 race engines that will power the Ford GTs.
Since durability and reliability in a 24-hour endurance race are vital, the team addressed these challenges with a rigorous mileage and dynamometer test strategy. There were a total of 22,000 vehicle test miles logged across the globe, including two durability tests strategically ran in two different countries and another 38,000 miles of durability and calibration mapping completed in the 17G Dyno cell in Ford Dearborn, Michigan facility.
The engine itself is composed of 1,600 parts. This masterpiece began with over 80 percent of the OEM components from the twin-turbo Ford EcoBoost V6 production platform. In order to make the engine race ready, additional parts were sourced or manufactured in-house at Roush Yates Manufacturing Solutions facility. This allowed for close oversight on the highly complex parts by the quality assurance team and allowing for Just-In-Time (JIT) delivery.