Ford’s head of global racing would like to see the new Ranger Raptor put to the test in some of the world’s toughest off-road races, including the Dakar Rally and Australia’s Finke Desert Race.
Trevor Worthington, head of Ford Performance, which oversees the brand’s racing activities, told Australian media, including CarsGuide – that he wants to see the Ranger tested in the heat of competition.
The most obvious candidate is the famous Dakar Rally, a two-week race through the desert of Saudi Arabia.
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“When I took over Ford Performance, one of my observations was that we have these iconic cars and we’re not using them as well as we should,” Mr. Worthington said. “Our costs are almost V8 Supercars and NASCAR – Mustang.
“Since then, we’ve expanded our remit with the Bronco… we have this Bronco DR that we’re about to go into production, which is practically a custom race vehicle. We’ve done all that work, and frankly, I’d love to see Ranger participate in global landmark events like this. I think the architecture suits it, I think Ranger customers, if they saw a Ranger competing like that, it would really resonate with them; strong, strong, able, anywhere, here’s the proof.’
However, he added one important caveat: Ford currently has no plans to enter the Dakar with a factory-backed team.
“We don’t have any plans that we want to talk about, but I said at Bathurst last year that I would like to see it happen,” he said. “It’s not much to talk about, but the Ranger is the kind of vehicle that lends itself to these possibilities.”
The Bronco DR (which stands for Desert Racer) reference does open up one potential avenue for Ford to help owners compete in off-road racing without joining an official factory team.
The Bronco DR is based on the four-door Bronco, but stripped of all the junk and reworked with off-road racing parts by Ford’s racing partner, Multimatic, the Canadian company behind the GT and competition supercar. version for the blue oval.
That means the 5.0-litre V8 is tuned to produce 300kW, and it also gets a stiffened chassis, Multimatic’s highly-rated Positional Selective DSSV dampers and 37-inch Mud-Terrain tires on lock-on wheels. It also received new bumpers and underbody protection, providing a 47-degree attack angle, 37-degree departure angle and 33-degree break angle.
During a visit to Bathurst in 2021, Mr Worthington spoke positively of the creation of the Ranger Desert Racer, so that adds even more weight to those chances. Especially since the Ranger and Bronco share the same basic underpinnings and the Raptor versions are planned and developed together.
Not that he thinks it will require the company to step in and make any major changes, because he believes the Ranger Raptor’s new 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 is already capable of racing.
“It’s inevitable for me that the Ranger Raptor can be a race car,” he said. “It could be run in private races, you could take it to Finke, you could do anything with it. Without, I would say, too many modifications, you can put a roll cage in there, a fire extinguisher and go.”