Ford Gears Up for Dakar Rally: Aims to Conquer the Dunes from 2024
Ford Ventures into the Dakar Rally Arena
In a significant motorsport announcement, Ford has confirmed its intention to participate in the globally renowned Dakar rally starting from 2024. The automobile giant will be entering a Ranger Raptor bakkie into the T1+ category, marking an ambitious venture into one of the world’s toughest off-road racing events. This project is a collaborative effort involving Ford Performance, Neil Woolridge Motorsport (NWM), and M-Sport. The initial aim for the first year is to “finish and learn”, with plans to compete with an upgraded model in the subsequent year.
A Learning Experience for Ford
While the announcement marks a milestone for Ford, the company is approaching its first Dakar foray with a focus on gaining knowledge and experience. According to Mark Rushbrook, Global Director of Ford Performance Motorsports, the first time in Dakar will serve as an opportunity for learning and improvement. Although victory is on the agenda, the primary focus will be to acquire experience and knowledge that can aid in the development of superior products for Ford customers.
Unveiling the 2024 Competitor
The vehicle set to compete in 2024 is being prepared by NWM, a team that also competes in the South African Rally circuit. This vehicle is equipped with Ford’s 3.5-litre V6 EcoBoost motor, which generates 300 kW of power and 600 N.m of torque, adhering to the strict FIA power and torque curves. Interestingly, the 2024 vehicle will retain the aesthetics of the previous generation model, with an all-new, custom-built Ranger bakkie slated for the 2025 event in Saudi Arabia.
The Powertrain Puzzle
While the details about the 2024 vehicle are exciting, Rushbrook did not confirm the powertrain that will be used in the 2024 and 2025 Ranger T1+ bakkies. When asked about the differences between the SARRC T1+ Ranger and the one expected to race in Saudi Arabia in January, Rushbrook mentioned that the entire bakkie would be elevated to the next level, hinting at significant advancements in the future models.
Comparing the Competition
For a comparison perspective, the current champion, Toyota Gazoo Racing’s T1+ Hilux, is powered by a twin-turbocharged 3.5-litre V6 from the latest Land Cruiser 300 GR Sport. This vehicle generates a total output of 298 kW and 660 N.m of torque, setting a high bar for competitors in the category.
As Ford gears up for this challenging venture, the focus remains on learning, adapting, and improving. With the first race in 2024 serving as a stepping stone, Ford hopes to leverage the experience to bring out an upgraded, competitive model for the 2025 rally. The upcoming years will indeed be exhilarating as Ford takes on the dunes of the Dakar Rally, marking a new chapter in its motorsport journey.
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