Ford is to enter a new-look Riley Daytona Prototype chassis powered by a 3.5-litre V6 EcoBoost engine in the 2014 Tudor United Sport-Car series in the United States - starting with the Rolex 24 at Daytona on 25-26 January and running the entire 12-race season, in a class dominated by big, naturally-aspirated V8 engines.
The idea is to show that a direct-injection, turbocharged V6 can provide both performance and fuel economy - which means making fewer pit stops during a long race, and saving the drivers from having to push to make up time.
Production and racing engineers from Ford, in collaboration with specialists from Roush Yates Racing Engines, have been endurance-testing the 3.5-litre EcoBoost V6 at Ford's Dynamometer Lab in Dearborn, Michigan - specifically in the specialised 17G dyno cell.
Ford Racing engine engineer David Simon explained: "This dynamometer installation is dedicated to motorsport; we can do full vehicle simulation in racing conditions, in a way some of our other cells aren't capable of doing. It's very, very specific to high-performance racing engine programmes."
Doug Yates, the power behind Roush Yates Racing Engines and a leading builder of competitive V8's, is convinced this engine is the future of the class.
"The 3.4-litre EcoBoost uses all the newest technologies, including direct injection and forced induction - we're looking at taking sports-car racing to the next level."
The car's body has been designed - using signature Ford styling cues - by lead Ford production designer Garen Nicoghosian with help from Ford Racing chief aerodynamicist Bernie Marcus.
The first team to get one will be top privateer set-up Michael Shank racing - winners at Daytona in 2012 - but they won't be waiting until the new year to get it up to top speed.
In a joint effort with Ford Racing and Continental tyres, they'll be taking the new Riley out on the tri-oval at 8am on 9 October 9 (weather permitting!) in an attempt to beat the all-time Daytona lap speed record of 336.582km/h, set by Nascar champion Bill Elliot in a Ford Thunderbird during qualifying for the Daytona 500 nearly three decades ago, on 9 February 1987.
Team principal Mike Shank said: "It's almost inconceivable that this record has stood for so long, so it's pretty special to take on a project such as this one. Anytime you have a crack at getting into the record books, it's a great opportunity."