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  Courage C65 Ford
 

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Country of origin:France
Produced in:2005
Designed by:Paolo Catone
Author:Wouter Melissen
Last updated:June 13, 2005
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Click here to download printer friendly versionIn an era when sportscar racing was dominated by big works teams, Yves Courage set up shop near the Le Mans track to build and prepare his own cars specifically for the annual 24 Hours race down the road. Dubbed the Cougar C01, it made its debut on the track in 1982. Throughout the 1980s and early 1990s Le Mans remained the main focus of the Courage team, resulting in excellent low downforce racers. When the team expanded to the world championship, it was faced with a lot of problems on tracks requiring a higher downforce setting.

Ten years later Courage is a leading independent sports prototype manufacturer. In an era dominated by the works Audi and Bentley racers, Courage cars have often picked up the 'best of the rest' result. New regulations to increase safety and cut costs were introduced in 2004, but the teams are allowed to run their cars with restrictions to the end of the 2005 season and as a hybrid to the end of 2006. In the new setup prototype racers are divided in two classes; LMP 1 and LMP 2, intended for high profile works teams and privateers respectively.

With the C65, Courage were the first to introduce a new car to fully comply with the LMP 2 regulations. Although it ran as a LMP 675 car in 2003, it was specifically designed for the new class. As per the LMP 2 rules, the C65 features a symmetrical roll over structure and a floorpan with regulated tunnels starting well before the rear wheel line, and the engine is mounted as a non stressed member. The carbon fibre tub is pretty much carried over from the successful C60 LMP 900 racer. A number of engines are available to be fitted in the spacious engine bay of the C65.

At the Le Mans test day in April 2004, five C65s were present, two of which were on the reserve list. Two cars were equipped with the Turbocharged 2 litre MG/AER engine and the other three featured the Naturally Aspirated JPX V6 engine. In the 24 Hours race two cars retired with engine problems and the other crashed out. In the remainder of the season the two AER engined cars were campaigned in the Le Mans Endurance Series (LMES), with three LMP 2 class victories in four races as a result.

Pictured are the two Paul Belmondo entered C65s, which are equipped with Ford renamed AER engines. The blue oval badge and Gulf colours bring back memories of the great successes of the 1960s, which the French team hopes to repeat in the 2005 24 Hours of Le Mans.

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  Article Image gallery (34) Specifications