Ford Ranger Raptor Will Take on the Dakar Rally After Winning Baja, Finke
With the Ranger Raptor making waves in off-road racing lately, Ford has set its sights on the big one.
Ford has been having a beautiful run of motorsporting success with its trucks of late. After storming performances by the Ford Ranger Raptor in recent events, the company has decided to take on one of the most grueling off-road competitions on the planet. Yes, Ford is heading to Dakar.
The Ranger Raptor has been cleaning up in a variety of prestigious races in recent years. 2022 saw it claim the win in the stock-midsize class in the Baja 1000, albeit by being the sole entry. This past week brought more success, with the Ranger Raptor claiming victory in the showroom class of the Finke Desert Race down under. Now, Ford is setting its sights on ever-greater competition for the mid-sizer.
The company will first take on the Dakar Rally in 2024, with a prototype truck running in the Rally Raid T1+ class. Based on the previous-generation global Ford Ranger, it will run a 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine, similar to the powerplant of the F-150 Raptor. Getting the truck through the event will be a joint effort between Ford Performance, M-Sport, and Neil Woolridge Motorsport (NWM). Notably, NWM previously ran a pair of Ford Rangers in the Dakar Rally in 2014.
“Our first time in Dakar will be a learning adventure that will help inform how we compete in thefuture,” said Mark Rushbrook, Global Director of Ford Performance Motorsports. “But as with all racing, we’re not just racing to win, we’re also racing to help build better products for our customers.”
Test races for the T1+ truck will include Spain’s Baja España Aragón and Morocco’s Rally du Maroc later this year if all goes to plan. The aim is to collect data and learn about the platform ahead of tackling the Dakar next year.
For 2025, Ford Performance and M-Sport will build an all-new Ranger Raptor race truck to suit the T1+ class regulations. This will more closely resemble the current production model, taking into account the lessons learned from the 2024 campaign.
With a multi-year plan and experienced organizations involved behind the scenes, Ford looks well-prepared to make waves at the world's premiere off-road race. The top brass at Dearborn will be watching with a close eye to see if the Ranger Raptor can bring glory home from the desert sands of Saudi Arabia.
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