Jamie Allison takes a shot of Michael Shank. (Pic: Sunday Group Management)
Complaints about a lack of torque and overall development for the Ford V8 – possibly due to Roush Yates' attention being shifted to the EcoBoost motor – made the rounds in the Grand-Am paddock for most of the season, and with Michael Shank Racing's two-car team left to fly the flag for Ford, Allison finds himself needing to secure more teams in 2014 to justify the effort and expense involved with the EcoBoost program.
Provided the twin-turbo V6 is a match for the V8s, it's unlikely Ford will be able to add a second or third team to its roster until owners and drivers see the EcoBoost run in anger at the upcoming tests.
"It's a conscious effort by Ford to develop the EcoBoost technology," he says, "and bring it to the United SportsCar series. It's important to support the series, and the association with the ACO, either in GTE or P2, which is what this engine was originally intended for, and to have a global association with them and to have a global application is very important to us.
“We're starting with a team (MSR) that has run Ford products over many years, and there are other teams that are looking at the package as something that could be of interest. We're surveying the landscape to see what opportunities are out there for us. We're excited to see how this parlays into new partnerships next year.”
The next step for Ford's engine and body package involves adapting to the new pieces coming from the series. A significant increase in downforce is coming through the addition of underbody tunnels, a diffuser and dual element rear wing.
Fitment of the EcoBoost engine has been done with the current flat-bottom DP floor which allowed the exhaust headers, turbos and wastegates to extend outward from the block without interruption. The new, upswept tunnels coming for 2014 have taken away that space, forcing the Roush Yates engineers to fashion new, elevated headers and turbo/wastegate mounting positions