Ford is refusing to be drawn on whether it is considering a return to the Le Mans 24 Hours after pulling the wraps off its all-new GT, a spiritual successor to its famed GT40.

The motoring giant surprised the auto industry by unveiling the new supercar at the annual Detroit Motor Show. The GT draws clear inspiration from the iconic GT40 of the 1960s and its more recent predecessor - also named GT -, which was produced for a limited period in 2005-2006.

Considered a 'halo' model for Ford and a figurehead for the recently created Ford Performance brand, the firm cites the GT's launch as an opportunity to celebrate the 50th anniversary of its famous 1-2-3 finish in the 1966 Le Mans 24 Hours.

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With this in mind, it has been speculated that the car could spearhead Ford's return to the endurance classic in a factory capacity, but this has been played down for 2016 at the very least. understands that the GT, which is set to be produced in relatively limited numbers, is being billed as a 2016 model, which means it is unlikely to receive the homologation rubber stamp for sales and production it needs to go racing in time for the 2016 event.

However, at the same time, Ford has not ruled out a return to international sportscar competition and it remains possible that the GT could still be on the grid in 2017, or earlier in the World Endurance Championship, where it would go up against Porsche, Aston Martin, Corvette and Ferrari.

Furthermore, the car could still appear at a national level and could be considered for the GT classes of the United Sports Car Championship prior to any international appearance.