- Ford Performance is set to participate in the famous Dakar Rally for the first time, which takes place in Saudi Arabia in January 2024.
- Ford will join partners M-Sport and Neil Woolridge Motorsport (NWM) to field a modified T1+ class Ford Ranger for 2024.
- According to Mark Rushbrook, global director of Ford Performance, Ford will use 2024 as a learning experience before bringing a Ranger Raptor-based truck to victory in 2025.
Ford Motor Company will be racing, and no, this time it’s not in response to Ferrari’s recent victory at Le Mans. Instead, Ford Performance will tackle the famous and physically demanding Dakar Rally. The Blue Oval will work with long-time partners M-Sport and Neil Woolridge Motorsport (NWM) to field the T1+ class trucks needed for the competition.
Mark Rushbrook, global director of Ford Performance, told Car and Driver some details about Ford’s entry into the famous rally. When it enters the race for the first time in 2024, Ford will run a modified version of the fourth-generation Ranger, built to T1+ Dakar specification.
According to Rushbrook, the 2024 race will be a “finishing and learning effort” for Ford, as the Dakar Rally race is grueling on trucks and teams. He plans to use the race as an opportunity for the team to learn the logistics needed to field strong competition at the race. The team also plans to compete in Spain’s Baja España Aragón rally and Morocco’s Rally du Maroc in July and October, using both races as testing grounds before the Dakar Rally in January.
Currently, the NWM-built competition truck uses the same twin-charged 3.5-liter V-6 EcoBoost engine as the F-150 Raptor. The harsh terrain of Saudi Arabia makes suspension an essential part of a truck. On the NWM Ranger, that means the suspension uses a 3.0-inch-diameter single damper at each corner, which provides up to 13.8 inches of wheel travel to protect landings when climbing dunes. Stopping power is handled via a set of 13.9-inch Brembo disc brakes, complete with water-cooled calipers to handle extreme heat.
Brand new truck for January 2025 Assembly
Using what they learned in the 2024 event, Ford and Rushbrook planned to launch an attack the following year. “We will prepare and build and test and develop the new truck until 2024. That we will bring back for the race in January 2025, with the intention of competing for victory,” he said. C/D.
Not only will they be equipped with the knowledge and experience of having actually competed in the event, but they also plan to bring a completely new truck. While the fourth-generation Ranger underpins the current Ranger NWM T1+, the 2025 entry will be built on the newer Ranger Raptor platform. When we asked Rushbrook if that meant the new truck would use the Raptor’s 3.0-liter twin-turbo V-6 instead of the current 3.5-liter, he instead pointed out that FIA rules allow the use of any engine from within the Ford family. , but won’t give any more specifics.
All the talk about this M-Sport and Ford Performance-developed vehicle got us thinking about the 5.4-liter V-8 in the just-released Mustang GT3. . . maybe that’s a conversation for next time.
Associate News Editor
Jack Fitzgerald’s love of cars stems from his unwavering addiction to Formula 1.
After a brief stint as a detailer for a local dealership group in college, he knew he needed a more permanent way to drive all the new cars he couldn’t afford and decided to pursue a career in auto writing. By hunting down his college professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, he was able to travel Wisconsin looking for stories in the auto world before landing his dream job at Car and Driver. His new goal is to delay the inevitable death of the 2010 Volkswagen Golf.