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Kelly ‘blown away’ by Baja beast

BATHURST 1000 winner Todd Kelly has spoken about the process of building the Next-Generation Ford Ranger Raptor which will make its competitive debut this week.

Built by Kelly Racing on behalf of Ford Performance, the Ranger Raptor was shaken down in the Australian outback and tested in California’s Johnson Valley ahead of its participation in the Baja 1000.

It will be run by Brad Lovell Racing in the treacherous Mexican off-road event.

Kelly described a 10-week window to transform the car from the production line into a race-ready truck as “intense”.

“The team at Ford Performance in Australia and the US were amazing and while the nights were long, I’m so glad I got involved in this project,” he said.

MORE: Kelly Jr takes the wheel of Todd’s final Supercar

“I’d heard the stories about this Ranger Raptor, but it wasn’t until I got my hands on it and drove the thing that I realised just how impressive it is.

“The powertrain, the chassis, the suspension have been built to do Baja, so all we had to do was work within the rules of the class and fit the cage, the fuel system, and safety gear.

“I was lucky enough to do a lot of the driving during the shakedown testing in the outback and I was completely blown away with how capable the truck is out of the box.

“I was finding that I was pushing it as hard as I could across dunes and along rutted tracks and yet the truck still felt like it had heaps left to give.”

Justin Capicchiano, who is part of Ford’s newly formed Australian motorsport division, added: “The Baja 1000 is known around the world as one of the toughest off-road races on the planet.

“It’s a difficult race to go and enter any vehicle into, let alone a production vehicle, and the Ranger Raptor we’re racing isn’t far off what you can drive off the showroom floor.

“We want to show the absolute capability of this truck in one of the most gruelling off-road races so that our customers can have total confidence in their Ranger Raptor.”

The Baja 1000 starts on November 18.

Pic: Supplied
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