July 15, 2024
Ford announces factory Dakar Rally tilt with NWM and M-Sport

The Blue Oval announced today the formation of a full factory Dakar programme using a T1+ version of the Ranger, which will be run in collaboration with Neil Woolridge Motorsport in South Africa and M-Sport in the UK.

The programme will effectively be launched in stages, with an existing NWM-built Ranger, powered by a 3.5-litre Ecoboost engine and based on the previous generation model, further developed for the 2024 Dakar.

That will be an exploratory effort at the famous rally raid, rather than an effort aimed at victory.

An all-new Ranger will then be developed by Ford Performance, NWM and M-Sport for the 2025 event, where Ford hopes to be in contention for the Dakar crown.

What will power the new Ranger T1+ is yet to be revealed.

“We know it’s a big endeavour that we’re taking on here, and not something where we can just show up and be successful,” said Ford Performance boss Mark Rushbrook.

Ford Ranger Raptor for 2024 Dakar Rally

Photo by: Ford

“We’re certainly doing our homework with that. Neil Woolridge has an existing truck based on the previous-generation Raptor, and we are taking the truck to compete in the January 2024 effort at Dakar.

“It’s a real test of the truck, so we can understand, what it takes in the truck to be successful. But also half the battle, maybe more, is the team logistics and execution, and going there in 2024 we need to learn about the logistics, the bivouac, picking up and moving almost every single day, what trucks and what support is necessary to be successful there.

“In January 2024 it is very much a ‘finish and learn’ effort.

“In parallel as we’ve been testing and preparing for the last nine months, we’ve been starting the design of an all-new truck. Our plan is to have an all-new test truck in the early part of 2024 that we will then continue testing and developing with the intent to go back in January 2025 with a ‘let’s compete and win’ effort.”

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M-Sport, meanwhile, has been targeting a Dakar effort with Ford and NWM for some time. 

“The Dakar Rally is truly among the pinnacle of global off -road racing events,” said Malcolm Wilson, M-Sport managing director.

“We’ve achieved great success over the years with Ford in FIA WRC rally racing and can’t wait to apply this same level of focus, energy and effort to competing with Ranger in Dakar.”

A production-based Ford Ranger off-road racer, built and developed in Australia and backed by the factory, has enjoyed success in recent months, including class wins at the Baja 1000 and, just last Monday, the Finke Desert Race.

That car will now be mothballed following its Finke success.

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