The long, low sweep of bodywork absorbs the early morning sun and radiates a warm glow, the candy apple red paint providing the aura of smoldering coals. It’s a dreadfully chilly morning in the Mojave Desert as we huddle close to the car to catch some reflected warmth.
It’s not the first time we’d stood around at Willow Springs International Raceway and gawked at an all-new Ford GT, waiting for clearance to begin hot laps. Seven weeks earlier, we were in this very spot with a black GT awaiting the same test. Our resident pro driver, Randy Pobst, had reported issues with the damping and braking. Then one of the well-worn prototype’s fuel pumps failed. The other fuel pump kept it running well enough to finish the photos you’re looking at.
A day before it showed signs of illness at the race track, our first GT told a very different story. Test meister Chris Walton found the launch control easy to use with light wheel slip on the way to a 3.0-second dash to 60 mph. More interesting was the second bout of wheelspin at 50 mph when the dual-clutch transmission grabbed second under full boost. Less than 8.0 seconds after hitting 60, it blew past the quarter-mile mark at 130.5 mph.
For all its straight-line punch, the GT is no Dodge Challenger SRT Demon. The Ford is built for corners. Figure-eight master Kim Reynolds found the GT predictable and surprisingly easy to drive hard. “It basically understeers” at the limit, he noted, “so it’s best just to manage it and then pour in power to rotate it out of the corner. It will try to spin if you don’t keep a step ahead of it. Frankly, it felt like I had a better time than a 22.7, but so it goes.”
To be clear, Big Willow is a nasty track. The pavement is old and bumpy. Its edges are jagged. There are no shark’s teeth to clip at the apexes, no gravel traps to catch you at the exits.
How did the GT do at the self-proclaimed “fastest road in the west”? With Randy at the wheel, we ran a blistering 1:23.69. Where does that fit in the scheme of things?