Ford EcoBoost Turbo V6. (Pic: Sunday Group Management)
Quite some time has passed since Ford made the decision to bring the first turbocharged engine to Grand-Am's Daytona Prototype class. With next week's expected revealing of the final-spec EcoBoost V6 and the custom bodywork it will live within, Ford's Jamie Allison brought RACER up to date on the project.
“This is a long time coming,” said the Blue Oval's director of racing. “We've been preparing a brand-new body that carries a lot of the Ford brand identity and cues – especially in the nose and the tail of the car. That's keeping with the spirit of what the series is trying to do with the Daytona Prototypes. And then we have the story around our EcoBoost engine. It's a global technology that fits a lot of what we're trying to do. We just announced last week that we've built our two millionth EcoBoost car, from a 1-liter found in a Fiesta, to a 2-liter found in a Focus ST to a 3.5 in a Taurus SHO as well as an F-150 truck.
“It's found in the U.S. and everywhere around the world. It's a production technology that's right for the times, so we're switching from the 5-liter V8 to the 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 EcoBoost in our DPs. The entire premise for the EcoBoost is to demonstrate endurance and efficiency in the new united series.”
The Roush Yates-built EcoBoost turbo started life as a P2 engine, and has since undergone a host of changes to suit the unique requirements found within the DP class. Outright power is limited by the series' technical staff – something in the 600hp range for BMW, Chevrolet and Ford – but the biggest requirement is found in the need to match mandated power and torque curves.
That process has been well established among the V8 engine providers, but with a new twin-turbo powerplant, Allison says meeting the power delivery characteristics sought by Grand-Am has been one of the ongoing developments on Ford's dyno.
“Different series govern their competition in different ways, because of the different designs,” he explained. “Grand-Am does it with balance of performance, using a few metrics on power and such. That will play itself out as we go racing. Diligence will play out as we see where it falls and the series understands that. We'll see where things line up once we get all the cars on track and adjust from there.”
Grand-Am's requirement of production-based DP engines has allowed the Roush Yates team to retain a high percentage of stock parts from the EcoBoost, which Allison takes great pride in mentioning.
“Seventy percent of the production engine remains in the race engine,” he confirmed. “It obviously has a production block, production heads, certainly new turbos, fueling system, crank and rods. All of that has been done under the capable hands of Roush Yates, and about six weeks ago, we ran over 24 hours on our transient dyno here at Ford to prepare for the [Daytona] 24.
“It was all to prove out and validate things. Then we'll go track testing for a couple of days at Daytona and Sebring with that powerplant. And the rest will be in the hands of the teams, Roush Yates and the series over the course of the season.”
One of the issues facing Allison and the Ford team involves the number of users that would be willing to use its new turbo engine and bodywork. With the mid-season defection by Starworks Motorsports from Ford to Steve Dinan-build BMWs, Allison has had just one team representing the brand in Grand-Am on a full-time basis.
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