After a stunning victory at the Baja 1000, and another win down under at the Tatts Finke Desert Race, Ford Performance looks to test their all-new Ford Ranger Raptor with another grueling challenge. The 2024 Dakar Rally is the next quest and sure to contest the new platform with the most extreme conditions.
Ford has rallied worldwide but has never faced an obstacle like this one. How will Ford tackle the Dakar Rally? Let’s take a look.
How Will Ford Compete in the 2024 Dakar Rally?
On June 14, Ford announced its entry for the 2024 Dakar Rally and said it plans to continue the race in future years, too. The manufacturer says the January 2024 Dakar Rally event will be a learning experience for Ford Performance. Its goal is to finish the race and learn more about the global off-road event.
“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.”
The Dearborn-based manufacturer is sending the Ford Ranger to Saudi Arabia this January in collaboration with M-Sport and Neil Woolridge Motorsport (NWM). The Ranger will compete in the Rally Raid T1+ category against strong foes like Toyota Gazoo Racing.
M-Sport is well regarded as a leading developer and campaigner of the M-Sport Ford Puma Hybrid Rally1 in the FIA World Rally Championship, as well as engine builders for the Mustang GT3 program. NWM has played a pivotal role since the infancy of the Rally-Raid Ranger, as the team developed and built units at its facility in Pietermaritzburg, KwaZulu-Natal, specified to compete in full Dakar T1+ regulations in the South African Rally-Raid Championship (SARRC) and around the world. With major global backing from Ford, we can expect this new factory-supported program to produce even better results.
Ford Performance will test the Ranger by racing on similar terrains — such as Baja España Aragón in Spain and Rally du Maroc in Morocco.
2024 will be a test run for Ford Performance. For 2025, the manufacturer is developing an all-new custom-built Ranger Raptor T1+ for the Dakar Rally.
Anticipation for the Raptor Ranger is high because in late 2023, the street-legal version debuts in the American market.
Where Is the 2024 Dakar Rally?
The 2024 Dakar Rally competitors will race in Saudi Arabia, where the event has taken place since 2020. The previous 11 Dakar Rallies occurred in South America.
Racers will start in AlUla in northwest Saudi Arabia and finish in Yanbu by the Red Sea. The 14 days of racing in the desert will be among the most challenging conditions ever endured in the rally world. The 2024 Rally introduces a new 48-hour stage format. At 4 p.m., the racers will hear a cannon blast and have to set up camp without seeing how their rivals have performed.
The Future of Ford Performance
Ford has a storied legacy in all types of racing. They have raced and won from Le Mans to Monaco, Daytona to Bathurst and Finke to Ensenada. Last November, Joey Logano brought Ford another NASCAR Cup Series championship. The high-performance division also has a long and successful history in off-road racing.
Ford will test its limits in the 2024 Dakar Rally with the Ford Raptor Ranger. This race sets up for an even more powerful and customized Ranger Raptor in the 2025 competition.