Ford announces maiden Dakar participation

June 16 th 2023 - 18:18 [GMT + 3]

Ford plans to race the Dakar 2024 in the T1+ category with a 4x4 based on its Ranger. A single medium-term objective has been set: to win the rally.

The 24 Hours of Le Mans, Daytona, World Rally Championship (WRC), Formula 1 Grand Prix: many different trophies sit on Ford's shelves. But the American manufacturer has yet to take on the one of the Dakar Rally. It has decided to do it, and will start its journey on the race next January. The commitment, awaited by rally-raid insiders for several months, became official on June 14. And comes in a context of major investment from the brand in car racing, with new models of the Mustang in endurance racing and a return to Formula 1 also expected.

A star in the car?
For its first participation, Ford will compete with a Ranger T1+ based on the previous generation global Ranger, with a 3.5-liter EcoBoost engine. Tests are already underway with the car, developed in collaboration with M-Sport and Neil Woolridge Motorsports (NWM). Two test races are expected to be done: the Baja Aragón, in July, and the Rallye du Maroc, the final round of the 2023 World Rally-Raid Championship (W2RC), in October. Ford will need to rely on experienced drivers to perfect its development, and is already looking at former winners or podium finishers to make up the crew, or crews, who will have to make the car shine.

"Finish and learn"
For now, Ford sees the Dakar 2024 as "a learning adventure". "To lead the charge at one of the ultimate global off-road events – the Dakar Rally – has been a goal of ours," said Mark Rushbrook, Ford Performance Motorsports Global Director. "We cannot underestimate the enormity of the challenge ahead of us. We need to finish and learn first with Ranger T1+ and partners like M-Sport and NWM, who bring their expertise to bear. Together, we can do amazing things in the sand dunes of the Arabian Peninsula," he promises.

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