How Ford’s EcoBoost stacks up to the prototype competition
While competing in the Prototype class of the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, there’s not much "prototype" about Ford’s EcoBoost engine that powers the race-winning Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Riley DP entry.
In fact, out of the five engine manufacturers represented in the category, Ford’s trailblazing twin-turbocharged EcoBoost V6 is one of the most relevant powerplants to the production cars on the street, with the majority of the engine coming straight from the showroom floor.
It’s offered Ford Performance the unique opportunity to go head-to-head with some of the most proven race-prepped engines in the series, while showcasing the efficiency and lightweight technologies of its production-based unit that’s already been proven on the road.
"There are a couple reasons why racing the EcoBoost engine is a smart choice," said Ford Performance race engine engineer Dave Simon. "First, the requirements for a successful road engine and a successful endurance racing engine are very similar.
"Both environments require high levels of reliable power and exceptional fuel economy. EcoBoost technology delivers both in a lightweight, compact package making it a great platform for a racing engine.
"It allows us to take a production-based 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 and compete and win against V8s that are up to 43 percent larger than our engine.
"Second… since EcoBoost technology is being applied across our four- and six-cylinder production engines, what we learn on the racetrack can be translated directly to those engines, as we did with the ultra-high-performance 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 for the Ford GT.
"In this case, racing our relevant production technology makes our engines better for the track and the road."
Stacked up against normally aspirated big-block V8s as well as other smaller-displacement turbocharged engines, the compact 3.5-liter EcoBoost not only produces the same power of its rivals but outperforms its competition in fuel economy under yellow flag conditions – an advantage the strategists at Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates have taken advantage of this season.
It’s allowed for additional technology transfer between the race and production engines that some other manufacturers wouldn’t be able to benefit from, according to Simon.
"The Ford 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 is one of two turbo V6s currently competing in the TUSCC Prototype class and the only one in a Daytona Prototype," said Simon. "The prototype classes do not mandate "spec" parts; rather, you homologate the parts you want to race.
"This makes every engine somewhat unique, allowing each manufacturer to design and develop its own specification.
"The race 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6 was engineered by Ford Performance, Ford Global Engine Engineering and Roush Yates Engines specifically for this application. There are a lot unique parts both inside and outside of the engine working together with the production components."
Proof of Ford’s concept will be on display next year when the same EcoBoost V6 will be fitted into its all-new Ford GT, which will compete in the GT Le Mans class in the TUDOR Championship and in all rounds of the World Endurance Championship, including the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
No other modern-day engine developed for the Prototype class has been used directly in the production-based ranks before, not only proving the EcoBoost’s versatility but also putting it in a league of its own when stacked up to the competition.