Ford P68

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Ford P68/P69
Auto racing Sports car racing
Constructor Alan Mann Racing
Automotive design Len Bailey
Technical Specifications
Chassis Aluminium Monocoque, with Steel Bulkhead (partition)
Suspension (front) Double wishbone suspension
Suspension (rear) Single top link with reversed lower A-arm and twin Trailing arm
Internal combustion engine Ford-Cosworth DFV 2993cc 90º V8, Naturally aspirated, Mid-engine
Transmission (mechanics) Hewland DG300 5-speed Manual gearbox
Fuel Burmah Oil Company Ltd.
Tire Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company
Competition History
Notable entrants Alan Mann Racing
Notable drivers Flag of New Zealand Bruce McLaren
Flag of the United Kingdom Mike Spence
Flag of the United Kingdom Chris Irwin
Flag of Austria Jochen Rindt
Flag of Mexico Pedro Rodríguez (racing driver)
Flag of Australia Frank Gardner (driver)
Flag of the United Kingdom Richard Attwood
Flag of New Zealand Denny Hulme
Debut 1968 BOAC 500
Brands Hatch
 Races   Wins    Pole position     Fastest lap   
8 0 1 1
Constructors' Championships 0
Drivers' Championships 0

The Ford P68, also commonly known as the Ford 3L GT or F3L, is a Sports car racing Racing car model introduced in March 1968. It was designed by Len Bailey, a Ford research engineer, funded by Ford Europe and built by Alan Mann Racing at Weybridge, Surrey, UK. The first competition appearance of a Ford 3L prototype was at the BOAC 500 race at Brands Hatch in Kent. Despite apparent pace, the car was criticized for instability at high speeds and, due to mechanical and electrical failures, did not finish any of the races for which it was entered.

For the 1969 season the P68 was used as the basis for an aborted, fully-open Spyder, dubbed the Ford P69. The P69 sported large, free-standing Aerofoil Downforce. However, these were banned on safety grounds early in the season, and without them the P69 was unraceable.

Contents

Background


At the end of the 1967 season the FIA redrew the rules for Sports car racing. Engine capacity was limited to 3 litres for the lightest, most advanced Group 6 sports prototype class, while a new 5 litre Group 4 Sports Car class [1] was introduced for vehicles of which at least 50 examples had been built. Ford's American headquarters organisation withdrew from sports car racing at the end of 1967,[2] leaving those teams committed to running the aging GT40 without factory support. While some teams, such as J.W. Automotive, decided to go down the Group 4 Sports Car route and began work on updating the GT40, Alan Mann Racing decided to build a brand new prototype car around Ford Europe's recently-introduced 3.0L Cosworth DFV V8 Formula One engine.

Raising sponsorship from Ford Europe, as well as Burmah Oil Company Ltd.-Castrol and Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company, AMR procured the services of leading Ford Aerodynamics Len Bailey, who had designed much of the GT40's bodywork, to work on their new car.

Design


The car was built to Group 6 regulations, with an open two-seat bodywork design. This was perhaps rather liberally interpreted, with only a small hatch in the otherwise enveloping roof being left open to the elements.[3] The hatch also allowed the driver to see the centrally mounted rear-view mirror.

One major advantage of the open prototype regulations was that they permitted a much lower roofline than otherwise would have been possible. Bailey used this to create an extremely low, long, curvaceous, aerodynamically efficient design. With a Drag coefficient of only 0.27[2] and a frontal area of 14ft²[3] the 3.0L engine was sufficient to push the P68 to over 350km/h,[2] faster than contemporary Formula One cars. However, former driver Frank Gardner (driver) has criticised Bailey's pursuit of aerodynamic efficiency at the expense of driver comfort.[4] In order to keep the P68 on the road, Bailey incorporated a patented, Vortex-generating tail scoop, intended to create Downforce without adding to Drag (physics). However, although the car has since been shown to produce moderate downforce at speed, this is mostly over the front wheels.[2] The resultant high-speed instability led to both John Surtees and Jack Brabham refusing to drive the car.[2][5] Over the following months the P68 sprouted ever larger rear Spoiler (aeronautics), and small chin spoilers, in an effort to stabilise the car.

Underneath the curvaceous bodywork, the chassis was a Rivet, Aluminium Monocoque, with Steel Bulkhead onto which the suspension components were mounted.[3] The DFV engine was supported in an aluminium cradle behind the driver. Unlike the Lotus 49 for which the DFV had been designed, the engine was not used as a structural chassis member. In contrast, the suspension layout was almost a direct copy of contemporary F1 practice. Contemporary observers commented on the oversized front Hub components, potentially allowing the car to be converted to Four-wheel drive at some point.[3] The Radiator was mounted in the nose, although cooling problems resulted in a wider opening being incorporated from mid-season. Fuel was stored in two deformable cells, one in each Sill.

Following poor results, during the winter of 1968 Len Bailey adapted the P68's monocoque to fully exploit the open-roof regulations. A fully open Spyder prototype was produced with almost completely new bodywork panels; even lower and wider, it also included a dramatic reduction in length.[5] Mechanicals were carried over from the P68 in almost unchanged form. This new car was numbered the P69, although differences with the P68 were only skin deep. In an attempt to cure the same stability problems that afflicted the P68, the P69 had an innovative system of interconnected, Hydraulics-controlled, partially automatic, adjustable Aerofoil Wing.[5] However, following several accidents with similar systems during Formula One races, the wings were swiftly banned by the FIA early in the season. Without wings, AMR judged that the car would require a complete redesign to be competitive with the dominant Porsche and therefore, lacking funds, the P68/P69 project was abandoned.

Race history


A Ford P68 on display at the Goodwood Festival of Speed.

The first batch of cars was ready for the season-opening BOAC 500 race, at Brands Hatch in March 1968. Even this early in its career, the P68 had started to grow spoilers and air dams at its front and rear. Two cars were entered, for Bruce McLaren and Denny Hulme, and Jochen Rindt and Mike Spence.[6] However, the two cars were relatively untested, with one actually being brand new, and teething troubles beset the weekend. Although initially slow during practice, gradual tuning and tweaking meant that by the end of qualifying McLaren had managed to put in a lap fast enough to take second place on the grid, splitting the works Porsche 907. Unfortunately, the Rindt/Spence car had suffered an engine mount failure and failed to qualify. Spence, something of a Brands Hatch specialist, was substituted into the lead car for the race, and was at the wheel, leading the race, when a rubber joint in the transmission failed, putting the car out. Although neither car had finished, the pace and performance while running looked to be promising better for the future.

This promise was never to be fulfilled. With Mike Spence's untimely death during practice for the 1968 Indianapolis 500, fellow Brit Chris Irwin was drafted in for the P68's next race: the 1968 1000km Nürburgring. He was lucky to escape death when he lost control of his car at the Flugplatz during practice, although his injuries were severe enough for his career to be ended. The car was destroyed.[7] In the race, once again the remaining P68 failed to finish due to mechanical gremlins. This was to be the pattern during all the remaining races for which the P68 was entered during 1968. One tantalising highlight occurred when Frank Gardner (driver), who performed much of the P68's limited developmental testing, took pole position at the 1000km Spa race. However, once again the car flattered to deceive, as it stuttered to a halt on the first lap of the race with faulty electrics. By this time the P68's faults were all too apparent, and Alan Mann Racing decided not to travel to the Zeltweg Airfield race.

For 1969 AMR intended to replace the P68 with its sister car, the P69. However, by the time of the 1969 BOAC 500 race only one P69 was ready. After trying the P69, prior to qualifying, Jack Brabham flatly refused to drive the car in anger so unstable did he find it. That left only a year-old P68 to carry the AMR flag, in the hands of Hulme and Gardner. A large, high-mounted wing was attached directly to the tops of the rear suspension towers, which went some way to reducing rear-end lift at speed, but again an engine failure stopped the car before the end of the race. The final competition outing for the Ford 3L prototype was at the AMOC Martini Trophy meeting at Silverstone Circuit. But driver Gardner never even made the grid, as rain during practice soaked the cars electrics, making it unable to start.

Complete entries summary

Yr. Event Circuit Drivers Notes
1968 World Sportscar Championship season BOAC 500 Brands Hatch Flag of New Zealand Bruce McLaren
Flag of New Zealand Denny Hulme
DNF. Hulme replaced by Spence for race. Transmission failure.
Flag of the United Kingdom Mike Spence
Flag of Austria Jochen Rindt
DNS. Engine mount failed in practice.
1000km Nürburgring Nürburgring Flag of Australia Frank Gardner (driver)
Flag of the United Kingdom Richard Attwood
DNF. Brake failure.
Flag of the United Kingdom Chris Irwin
Flag of Mexico Pedro Rodríguez (racing driver)
DNS. Car written off in practice.
RAC Tourist Trophy Oulton Park Flag of the United Kingdom Richard Attwood DNF. Differential failure.
AMOC Martini Trophy Silverstone Circuit Flag of Australia Frank Gardner (driver) DNF. Engine failure.
1000km Spa Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps Flag of Australia Frank Gardner (driver)
Flag of Germany Hubert Hahne
Pole position, DNF. Electrical failure.
500km Zeltweg Zeltweg Airfield Flag of Australia Frank Gardner (driver)
Flag of the United Kingdom Richard Attwood
DNA.
n/d DNA.
1969 World Sportscar Championship season BOAC 500 Brands Hatch Flag of New Zealand Denny Hulme
Flag of the United States Masten Gregory
P68, DNF. Gregory replaced by Gardner for race. Oil pressure.
Flag of Australia Frank Gardner (driver)
Flag of Australia Jack Brabham
P69, DNS. Withdrawn.
AMOC Martini Trophy Silverstone Circuit Flag of Australia Frank Gardner (driver) DNS. Wet electrics.

References

  1. Time and Two Seats, © 1999
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 "Ford F3L". www.Ultimatecarpage.com. http://www.ultimatecarpage.com/frame.php?file=car.php&carnum=205. Retrieved on 2007-02-20. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Taylor, Ron (1968). "Prototype Parade No. 276: Ford 3L Proto". Model Cars 5 (7): 322–323. http://www.vsrnonline.com/Mags/MC/Vol5/V5N7/MC_V5N7_p322.jpg. Retrieved on 19 February 2007. 
  4. Taylor, S. (2008) Lunch with... Frank Garner. Motor Sport (magazine), 84/3, p. 84-92
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Anon. (1970). "Ford P69". Model Cars 7 (1): 41–43. http://www.vsrnonline.com/Mags/MC/Vol5/V5N7/P69_1.jpg. Retrieved on 19 February 2007. 
  6. "RAC Sports Car Championship 1968". www.WSPR-Racing.com. http://wspr-racing.com/wspr/results/bscc/bscc1968.html. Retrieved on 2007-02-23. 
  7. Series of photos at 20832.com

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