The Ford Bronco R Is Back Trying to Win the Baja 1000 Right Now

Ford hopes to clinch that victory after mechanical failure doomed its last attempt.

Having traversed 580 miles of last year’s Baja 1000 when a mechanical failure ruined the Ford Bronco R’s attempt at finishing the iconic race, the Blue Oval is now returning to Mexico for another shot at completing the 1,000-mile off-road endurance race, which starts today. This time around, however, the team is joined by a pre-production 2021 two-door Bronco, a 2021 F-Series Super Duty Tremor, and an F-150 Raptor as support vehicles.

The Bronco R is built on the same T6 chassis that underpins the regular Bronco, so there is relevance to the vehicle completing the race. Last year’s results were a blow to Ford—who had not yet unveiled the production Bronco—but it’s safe to say that it hasn’t put a damper on the Bronco’s popularity. Still, just like in its many attempts to win Le Mans, Ford isn’t content until it redeems itself.

The Bronco R, which uses the same 2.7-liter EcoBoost found in the street-going Bronco and indeed several other Ford models, will be driven by a team of drivers including Cameron Steele, Shelby Hall, Johnny Campbell, Curt LeDuc, and Jason Scherer. All of them have raced with Ford in the past, with Shelby Hall winning this year’s Rebelle Rally behind the wheel of the 2021 Ford Bronco Sport. Cameron Steele is also a Baja champion in his own right, winning his class at the event in 2018.

As well as participating in the race for glory, Ford also says it’s using the time in Mexico to tune up the “Baja Mode” for its Terrain Management System. The brand says the mode will attempt to optimize throttle response using some manner of anti-lag, a strategy that was first deployed in the Ford GT’s EcoBoost engine. The mode will also include a more aggressive shift mapping for maximum engine torque at the wheels at any given moment. That sounds to me like Baja mode will be the Bronco’s “Sport” setting.

So, let’s hope all goes well for the brand this time around. A repeat of last year’s failure would certainly not be a good look, although damaging the Bronco brand at this point seems pretty unlikely. Whether the team succeeds or not, we doubt anybody will be canceling reservations.

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