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.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this.