Grand Throwback #5 - 2007 Ford GT GT3
Lightning does strike twice after all.
The 2005 Ford GT is arguably one of the best supercars to come out of the United States, if not the best. Unveiled in 2005, it was a tribute to the original Ford GT40, one of the most ambitious motorsport projects ever. It stole the hearts of many car enthusiasts around the world, with its retro styling echoing back to the original, and a newly-developed 5.4-litre supercharged V8 engine.
Ford never intended to race the GT, nor was it developed as a track car for the road. But despite being a high-end supercar, it served as a stellar platform for tuners and racers alike. One such racing team, Matech Motorsports, decided to kick the GT up a notch, unleashing its full potential on the track as a GT3-homologated racing car. Because the Blue Oval won't do it, the Swiss decided to do it themselves.
But what makes this GT3 racer atypical from the rest of the competition is that there was not one, but two separate homologations of the same car.
The Matech-Ford GT GT3. (Source: Auto Bild Deutschland, Martin Westerhoff)
In 2006, Martin Bartek founded Matech Concepts, a motorsports development firm based in Geneva, Switzerland. They established a close connection with Ford Racing, acting as the official European distributor for high-performance Ford racing car parts such as the Mustang FR500. They also signed a contract to develop the 2005 Ford GT into homologated racing cars for the GT3 and GT1 series.
Despite the GT already being a competent supercar, there were still a few modifications needed to make the car even more competitive, especially in the heavily contested GT3 season. Matech appointed lead engineer Andreas Hainke to lead and develop the Ford GT GT3's development.
The Matech-Ford GT GT3
The Matech-Ford GT GT3. (Source: ultimatecarpage.com)
Matech made the GT go through a rigorous weight loss program, throwing everything unnecessary into the bin. Gone were all the driver comforts, such as the air conditioning and aluminium trim. In its place, a black carbon dashboard spanning through the interior with nothing but a central information display. Where the fuel tank once was in the production car now stands a huge, black gear lever controlling a brand new racing-grade gearbox that made the whole car shake with every shift.
According to Martin Bartek, only about 20% of the car remains from the production car. Matech bought five series production Ford GTs and turned all of them into GT3-homologated racing cars. Carbon fibre made up a majority of the car's body from the car's external skin to the rear fenders. All those weight savings contributed to a 370-kilogram reduction. Its 5.4-litre supercharged V8 engine produces 550 horsepower and 650 newton-meters of torque, similar to the production car.
The Match-Ford GT at Bucharest. (Source: FIA GT3)
The Matech-Ford GT made its debut in the 2007 GT3 season, the first car of its model to ever race in GT3. During the season-opener in Silverstone, the GT held up against the competition, qualifying second place but finishing sixteenth. However, no one expected how dominant they would become in the next race at Bucharest. During the race, heavy rains fell, but both GTs trod on; one of them raced with a flat tyre without the driver realizing until near the end of the race. The #43 car finished second during the first race, followed by the #44 car finishing first place in the second race.
After Bucharest, the Matech-Ford GT3 didn't shine on the racetrack as much. The team finished a modest eighth place, securing 21 points in total. However, it ran circles around its American arch-rival, the Callaway Corvette Z06 R in last place.
The Matech-Ford GT GT3 in 2008. (Source: Autoblog, Drew Phillips)
2008 would be a significant year for Matech. Unfortunately, at the end of the 2007 season, Matech owner Martin Bartek and team principal Christian Schumacher parted ways. But the Matech-Ford GT GT3 would become a dominant force in the 2008 season. At the opening race in Silverstone, Matech won both rounds and set a trend for the rest of the season. The GT GT3 would win the first-place title sixteen times over the season.
In the following year, Matech dominated the first race in Adria Raceway, Italy. The team managed to pull off a 1-2 finish in the first race but unfortunately was held back in the next race after one of the GTs crashed into a front bonnet that came off another car. Despite that setback, Matech managed to win the constructor's championship of the 2009 season.
Closure of Matech
The Matech-Ford GT GT1, loosely based on the GT3. (Source: Wikimedia Commons, Nicolas Garcia)
Matech had big plans after their GT3 successes in 2008 and 2009. They were aiming for the GT1 trophy and entered the Matech-Ford GT GT1 for the 2009 season. The team participated in the GT1 championship once again in 2010, yielding pretty dominant results. They finished 10th in 2009 and 5th in 2010.
The team's prospects looked bright, but unfortunately, tragedy struck the following year. In April 2011, Martin Bartek, the team's founder and the man credited for bringing the Ford GT back to motor racing, was found dead at the age of 44. Operations were scaled back massively, and the team no longer fielded their cars. Matech would cease all operations shortly afterwards.
The Lambda Performance Ford GT GT3. (Source: Lambda Performance)
In 2011, Harald Georg Müller, a German entrepreneur and engineer founded Lambda Motorsport in 2011, shortly after Matech's demise. He was an avid fan of the original Ford GT40 and was determined to bring its successor back to the racetrack once again.
Lambda-Ford GT GT3
The Lambda-Ford GT GT/E. (Source: ADAC GT Masters)
Lambda Performance unveiled the Ford GT GT3 in 2013. Despite its name, it doesn't share much with the original Matech Ford GT, using a brand new Ford GT instead of the Matech GT GT3 as a base. Lambda Performance also took over the supply of spare parts for the Matech-developed GT GT1 and GT3 cars..
The car made its first competitive debut at the 2011 ADAC GT Masters season finale at Hockenheim, Germany. During the race, the car didn't perform too well. It finished 21st place and retired from its first two races.
Lambda-Ford GT3 EVO
The Lambda-Ford GT3 EVO. (Source: Speedweek Deutschland)
Despite the GT3's less-than-favourable start, Lambda Performance quickly got to work on a successor to the GT3. Former Ferrari, Williams and Lotus F1 chassis designer Enrique Scalabroni was in charge of developing the new car. The GT3's successor, the Lambda-Ford GT3 Evo, was given a significant overhaul.
It received significant chassis tweaks, a new AP racing monobloc braking system, all-new electronics, a more advanced suspension, and an all-new engine. An all-new Cammer Roush 5-Liter V8 powered the new GT3 Evo, producing 575 horsepower through a new Xtrac racing six-speed sequential gearbox.
The Lambda-Ford GT GT3 Evo. (Source: ADAC GT Masters)
The GT3 Evo made its racing debut at the 2013 season of the ADAC GT Masters. In the second race at Spa, the GT3 Evo won its first-ever race, with the #14 car crossing the line in the first race, and securing pole position in the second.
Tragedy at Lambda
The Lambda-Ford GT GT3 Evo. (Source: Motorsport Magazin)
Unfortunately, tragedy struck Lambda Performance the following year, with team founder Harald Georg Müller passing away. Everybody assumed that it was the end of the team, and the end of the Ford GT in racing, as their circumstances eerily resembled their predecessor, Matech.
The team was close to folding, but Georg's son, Andreas Müller, decided to carry the torch and continue his father's dream. In 2015, he took charge of the team and went to work making the GT3 Evo even more competitive, than it ever was before...
According to an interview with Andreas Müller, his father's passion for motorsport and the Ford GT was what motivated the team to carry on the torch and come back stronger than ever. The team participated in a few 'test races' during the 2015 ADAC GT season. However, they were far from done.
Return to Racing
The Lambda-Ford GT GT3 Evo at Dubai. (Source: 24H Series)
Lambda Performance wanted to prove to their customers that their car can survive 24 hours racing nonstop. They were aiming at participating in the Hankook 24 Hours of Dubai. Although not as prestigious as Le Mans, it was still a very challenging race.
In 2018, Lambda Performance entered their Ford GT GT3 into the 24 Hours of Dubai, five years after the car's debut. Andreas Müller now oversees the team alongside his mother, Helga. The new GT GT3 features CFD-designed aerodynamics made out of carbon fibre, overhauled electronic systems, and a new mid-mounted 5.3-litre naturally aspirated Spiess V8, making 510 horsepower.
Unfortunately, the car's performance was far from ideal. The agonizing race conditions proved to be a challenge to the car, as brake failures and on-track mishaps hampered its performance. After the race was over, it secured seventh place in its class.
However, to Lambda Performance, the result didn't matter. The race was meant to be a tribute to the company's founder, Harald, who aspired that the Ford GT would return once again to endurance racing...
About This Series
The Grand Throwback Series is a tribute to the first few GT3 homologated cars of the now successful FIA GT3 racing formula. Over five days, five DT users will post five articles about their favourite early GT3 cars, and tell each of their unique stories. This installment is the final article of the series, marking an end to this rather ambitious project.
Check out other parts of this series here:
A historically significant car for GT3 racing, but not for the right reason
The fat-free DBR9 for GT3 competition...
Unique, sadly half-decent at best - but the foundation for something better.
Make sure to follow these creators as they all contributed to this series
An impossibly tall Dutchman with a fascination for the legends of motorsport. I try to find the weirdest, most obscure racers and tell their stories in minute detail on the interwebs. Expect plenty of feature length content from me.