Ford to run factory Dakar effort with M-Sport

It will run a fully fledged program for next year and is targeting victory in 2025

Ford Performance Preps to Race Ultimate ‘Bad-Ass’ Ranger Rap

Ford Performance has announced it will run a full factory program in the Dakar Rally, collaborating with M-Sport and Neil Woolridge Motorsport from 2024 onwards.

It is the first time that the motorsport division of Ford Motor Company has embarked on a works effort on the classic rally raid but is already targeting victory on the event as early as 2025.

The partnership between the three entities has been described by Ford Performance as a “multi-year plan” which will use the Ford Ranger and the Ranger Raptor T1+ vehicles.

“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, Global Director, Ford Performance Motorsports. “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.

“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.”

The Ford Ranger with which Ford will enter next year’s Dakar Rally is based on the previous generation car and fitted with a 3.5-litre EcoBoost engine. M-Sport and NWM are also expected to take part in the traditional preparatory Baja España Aragón and Rallye du Maroc events before its Dakar bow in January.

The Ranger will be used on the 2024 event only, with an “all-new, custom-built Ranger Raptor” on the cards for a victory title in 2025.

“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.”

No drivers have been officially announced by Ford Performance or M-Sport its maiden assault on the event, but Dakar veteran Nani Roma – who won the rally in both the car and bike categories – has tested the Ranger T1+, while up-and-coming T3 Lightweight Prototype driver Seth Quintero has also been linked with the drive.

The 2024 Dakar Rally takes place between January 5-19 in Saudi Arabia.

Words:Stephen Brunsdon