Ford Performance, the performance division of the Ford Motor Company, has made an announcement with respect to its involvement in the global off-road racing event - the iconic Dakar Rally. The American automotive giant is set to expand its motorsports efforts by competing in the 2024 Dakar rally, which from January 5 to 19 will be held for the fourth consecutive year in Saudi Arabia. A full factory Dakar programme with the T1+ version of the Ford Ranger Raptor - an extreme racing version of the Ford Ranger - will step up Ford's off-road racing effort in the 2024 Rally and beyond. The full works Dakar programme will be run in collaboration with M-Sport in the UK and Neil Woolridge Motorsport (NWM) in South Africa.
The Ford Ranger Raptor T1+ will be based on the previous generation Ranger, slated to be developed further for the 2024 Dakar Rally. According to Ford, this will be an exploratory effort at the Dakar Rally, instead of an effort aimed at victory. Following this, Ford Performance, NWM, and M-Sport will develop the brand-new Ranger for the 2025 Dakar Rally, where Ford aims to compete for the Dakar crown.
Ford Ranger Raptor T1+: What Will Power the Racing Version?
The Ford Ranger T1+ version is expected to draw power from a 3.5-litre EcoBoost V6 engine. Power and torque figures are rated at 396bhp of maximum power and 599Nm of peak torque. Nevertheless, Ford is yet to reveal the engine details as the upcoming racer is still under development and is likely to receive additional improvements.
For those unaware, Neil Woolridge Motorsport upgraded the Ranger T1+ truck back in 2022, with a revamped suspension setup, new carbon fibre, and aramid weave bodywork.
Ford's Plans For Ranger Raptor T1+
In addition, Ford is also planning to run the Ranger T1+ in a few test races, in the run-up to the 2024 Dakar Rally. These occasions include the Baja Espana Aragon rally in July and the Rally du Maroc in October. Ford hopes to embrace the Dakar challenge as a learning opportunity rather than expecting to master the race. These learnings, according to Ford, will serve as the foundation for the 2025 Dakar Rally.
"We cannot underestimate the enormity of the challenge ahead of us. We need to finish and learn first with Ranger T1+ and partners like M-Sport and NWM, who bring their expertise to bear. Together, we can do amazing things in the sand dunes of the Arabian Peninsula", said Mark Rushbrook, Global Director, Ford Performance Motorsports.
Ford at Dakar in 2014
From Le Mans to Monaco, Daytona to Bathurst, and Finke Desert race to Ensenada, Ford Performance has competed and won in races. It last competed in the 2014 Dakar Rally with the modified Ranger, which was equipped with a Mustang GT-sourced 5.0-litre V8 engine (343bhp/558Nm). The forces behind Ford's entry were M-Sport and NWM, with which the American automotive giant teamed up again for this latest effort.
Among the drivers were Lucio Alvarez and Ronnie Graue in the first Ranger, finishing the Ford Ranger's Dakar Rally debut in 22nd position. Chris Visser and Japie Badenhorst, meanwhile, were in the second Ranger.