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Ford announces maiden Dakar mission

MONACO. Le Mans. Daytona. Bathurst. Ford has conquered them all.

Now it has a new mission: the Dakar Rally.

Ford’s increasing presence in the off-road scene has seen it tackle the Baja 1000 and Finke Desert Race in recent times with a Kelly Racing-built Ranger Raptor.

Last weekend’s Finke debut saw it break the Production 4WD record for the Aputula to Alice Springs return trip en route to a class win.

For the 2024 Dakar Rally, to be held next January in Saudi Arabia, Ford will compete in the Rally Raid T1+ class with a purpose-built Ranger. 

Pic: Supplied

Powered by a 3.5-litre EcoBoost engine, that vehicle is set for test races this year in Spain (Baja España Aragón) and Morocco (Rally du Maroc) before embarking on a learning exercise at Dakar.

Those lessons will then be applied to an all-out assault on the 2025 edition, for which Ford Performance and M-Sport are developing a new Ranger Raptor in line with Dakar’s T1+ class ruleset.

“To lead the charge at one of the ultimate global off-road events – the Dakar Rally – has been a goal of ours,” declared Mark Rushbrook, Ford Performance Motorsports global director.

“We cannot underestimate the enormity of the challenge ahead of us.

Pic: Supplied

“We need to finish and learn first with Ranger T1+ and partners like M-Sport and NWM (Neil Woolridge Motorsport), who bring their expertise to bear.

“Together, we can do amazing things in the sand dunes of the Arabian Peninsula.”

He added of Dakar 2024: “Our first time in Dakar will be a learning adventure that will help inform how we compete in the future.

“But as with all racing, we’re not just racing to win, we’re also racing to help build better products for our customers.”

Ford also recently unveiled its new Mustang GT3 which will debut at the 24 Hours of Daytona in January 2024.

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