Ford EcoBoost’s advances

The majority of the twin-turbo 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 race engine is production-based, sharing the same aluminum head and block and high-pressure direct injection system as its production counterpart. However, it produces upwards of 600 horsepower, compared to 365 horsepower in the 2015 Ford Taurus SHO.

Wes Duenkel

Since its debut in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship last year, Ford’s EcoBoost has been one of the most successful engines in the Prototype class, both in terms of performance and efficiency.

But how does Ford Performance extract the maximum out of its turbocharged engine that will power Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates’ Riley DP this weekend at Long Beach?

For one, the majority of the race engine is production-based, sharing the same aluminum head and block and high-pressure direct-injection system, but producing upwards of 600 horsepower, compared to 365 horsepower in the 2015 Ford Taurus SHO.

With nearly a two fold increase in power, it’s resulted in changes such as the optimization of components like camshafts and turbochargers to take the increased load.

“Even after all of those changes, the majority of the race engine is still comprised of production- based engine components including the block and heads,” said Ford Performance race engineer Dave Simon. “This speaks to the durability of the production engine.”

Both the race and production versions of the EcoBoost encompass the same philosophy.

While under pressure from the twin turbochargers, air flows into the cylinders from the intake valves while fuel is injected into the cylinders in small amounts.

As the fuel vaporizes and mixes with air, the charge is cooled, resulting in reduced knocking tendencies and enabling higher compression ratios.

Direct injection, meanwhile, produces a denser charge, resulting in greater power, with spent gasses being pushed through the exhaust valves and routed to the turbos.

This direct correlation from the track to the street, and vice-versa, has provided Ford engineers with a fast-paced test bed for development.

Proof of that has come this season, with the 2015 EcoBoost race engine being lighter, more durable and having a better response, thanks to a number of hardware and calibration changes.

Since its debut in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship last year, Ford’s EcoBoost has been one of the most successful engines in the Prototype class, both in terms of performance and efficiency. 

“There has been almost constant improvement in the production EcoBoost engines since their introduction,” said Simon.

“Hardware, such as turbos, fuel systems and VCT systems have all been under constant development. New calibrations have also been developed improving control of fuel, spark and boost.

“All of this combines to provide better engine performance and efficiency,” he said.

With the formation of Ford Performance, which links all of its race programs together under one roof, it’s also provided further advancements in the EcoBoost platform, which is currently being used not only in sports car racing, but also in off-road, touring car, formula and rally.

In fact, development from the EcoBoost that’s being used in Ganassi’s DP is being directly transferred into the new-for-2016 Ford GT production car, which will feature the same 3.5-liter, V6 powerplant.

And this weekend at Long Beach, Ford will again pace the field, with a 2.3-liter EcoBoost Mustang serving as the Pace Car for the Tequila Patron Sports Car Showcase.

“The 2015 Ford EcoBoost-powered Mustang is a proof point of our commitment to going further,” said Dave Pericak, director, Global Ford Performance.

“Seeing an EcoBoost production vehicle next to the EcoBoost prototype is such a visual demonstration of how Ford is using the racetrack to help develop production technology that will be used across the board.”