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Racing to Win - The Lohdown

Motor Trend logo Motor Trend 7/21/2015 Edward Loh

At the 83rd running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans, I found myself elbowing for position among the assembled photographers for a shot of the Ford GT Le Mans racer and then face-to-face with the guy who had just introduced it, Bill Ford Jr.

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Ford's announcement that it would return to Le Mans in 2016, the 60th anniversary of its podium sweep over rival Ferrari, is no accident. So I asked Bill how competitive his GT would be next year. His response:

"We race to win."

Ford hopes to have the kind of success in its first year back that Porsche had in its second.© Provided by MotorTrend Ford hopes to have the kind of success in its first year back that Porsche had in its second. Sure, he hedged a little after, but I like that those were the first words out of his mouth. I liked even more the responses I got when I asked Bill's underlings whose butt it would be if the Blue Oval does not win. To a man, each team member responsible for bringing Ford back to racing was ready to fall on that grenade.

Know who is also serious about winning at Le Mans? The Germans. Since 2000, an Audi has won the 24 Hours of Le Mans 12 times. The only times Audi did not win were 2003 (Bentley), 2009 (Peugeot), and this year. In 2015, Porsche took its first victory since 1998 and 17th overall (the most by any manufacturer).

MotorTend Image© Provided by MotorTrend MotorTend Image I was with Porsche last year when it triumphantly returned to the top Le Mans Prototype 1 (Hybrid) category. Its duo of 919 Hybrid race cars started strong and one even led the race for a bit, but then hopes were dashed when both cars suffered mechanical failures. One 919 finished the race, no small feat, but the mood in the paddock and hospitality suites was grim.

What a difference a year and tens of millions of dollars makes: Porsche came back in 2015 with three new 919s, which promptly qualified 1, 2 and 3, with the lead qualifier setting a new lap record. The team went on to dominate the race from flag drop to champagne pop; Porsche finished in first, second and fifth positions. Audi finished in third, fourth and seventh.

Back in the Porsche paddock, the beaming faces of drivers, drenched in sweat and champagne, were met by the faces of jubilant executives and engineers, with faces also wet from champagne and tears. Having been embedded with Porsche two years in a row, I can tell you the tears fall harder, and from higher up, when the team wins.

On the subject of racing to win, I'm proud to announce that we've added three new staffers to Team Motor Trend; road test editor Chris Walton, editorial video producer Cory Lutz, and senior features editor Jason Cammisa.

MotorTend Image© Provided by MotorTrend MotorTend Image Chris Walton returns to Motor Trend after a nine-year infiltration of an online competitor. I'm kidding, but not when I say Chris returns to us with speed, consistency, and a wealth of testing knowledge and expertise. We're lucky to have snagged him.

Cory Lutz comes to us from our Mind Over Eye digital production house, where he shot, edited, and directed various automotive programs you might have seen, including supporting videos for annual Best Driver's Car program. As you'll see, Cory can do it all across our many online, video, and social platforms. He's also a fellow graduate of the University of Southern California, so you know he's aces.

Racing to Win - The Lohdown

MotorTend Image© Provided by MotorTrend MotorTend Image Last and loudest is Jason Cammisa, whom many of you may recognize from our YouTube channel. While at our sister publication Automobile, Jason hosted a special Head 2 Head video, dubbed "The Carbon Fiber Drag Race," that has managed, at last count, to clock more than 61 million views—by far the most of any production on the Motor Trend channel. Jason has been fond of reminding me of this fact, especially when he left our company for a competitor, so it warms my heart to get him back on our team, ready to set new records.

More from The Lohdown:

Ford GT - FIA World Endurance Championship© Provided by MotorTrend Ford GT - FIA World Endurance Championship
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