Ford Performance Gears Up for Dakar Rally with Ranger Raptor T1+ Racing Team

photo: Ford Performance

Ford Performance’s global off-road racing division is set to embark on a thrilling new endeavor by participating in the renowned Dakar Rally starting in 2024 and beyond. An extreme racing version of the Ford Ranger® will spearhead their ambitious plan.

Having triumphed in prestigious races such as Le Mans, Monaco, Daytona, Bathurst, Finke, and Ensenada, Ford Performance now seeks to conquer one of the toughest challenges on the planet: the iconic Dakar Rally.

Ford Performance will collaborate with long-standing partners M-Sport and Neil Woolridge Motorsport (NWM) for vehicle development, servicing, and event management to pave the way for their multi-year Dakar Rally campaign. This collaboration aims to ensure the team’s success while accumulating invaluable knowledge and experience.

Mark Rushbrook, Global Director of Ford Performance Motorsports, expressed his enthusiasm, stating, “Leading the charge at one of the ultimate global off-road events, the Dakar Rally, has always been a goal for us. We recognize the magnitude of the challenge that lies ahead. Our initial focus is on finishing and learning with the Ranger T1+ and our esteemed partners, M-Sport and NWM, who contribute their expertise. Together, we can achieve remarkable feats in the Arabian Peninsula’s sandy dunes.”

From January 5-19, 2024, in Saudi Arabia, the 2024 Dakar Rally will debut a purpose-built, high-performance Ford Ranger in the Rally Raid T1+ category.

The joint team of Ford Performance, M-Sport, and NWM has meticulously planned a series of development phases throughout 2023. Currently, they are conducting tests with the Ranger T1+, which is based on the previous generation global Ranger and powered by a 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine. In preparation for the Dakar Rally, the team anticipates participating in test races like Spain’s Baja España Aragón and Morocco’s Rally du Maroc in July and October of this year.

“Our inaugural Dakar experience will be a learning adventure that will shape our future endeavors,” Rushbrook explained. “However, as with all races, our objective extends beyond victory; we also aim to enhance our product offerings for our valued customers.”

Looking ahead to the 2025 Dakar Rally, Ford Performance and M-Sport are collaborating on the development of an entirely new, custom-built Ranger Raptor® T1+. This vehicle will be specifically designed and constructed in compliance with Dakar’s T1+ class regulations.

Malcolm Wilson, Managing Director of M-Sport, expressed his excitement, saying, “The Dakar Rally represents the pinnacle of global off-road racing events. Having achieved significant success with Ford in the FIA WRC rally racing, we eagerly anticipate applying the same dedication, energy, and effort to compete with the Ranger in the Dakar.”

M-Sport boasts a stellar reputation as a leading developer and campaigner of the M-Sport Ford Puma HybridRally1 in the FIA World Rally Championship, in addition to their role as engine builders for the Mustang GT3 program. Meanwhile, NWM has been instrumental since the inception of the Rally-Raid Ranger, as they have developed and manufactured units at their facility in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal. These units are meticulously crafted to meet the demanding Dakar T1+ regulations for the South African Rally-Raid Championship (SARRC) and international competitions alike.

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