Ford on Wednesday announced plans to become a regular fixture at the Dakar Rally, starting in 2024.
The automaker will compete in the popular T1 class, initially using a custom rig resembling the previous-generation Ford Ranger. The class is open to non-production vehicles that meet FIA technical and safety standards, and typically includes vehicles with tubular chassis and composite bodies.
Ford last entered the Dakar Rally in 2014 with a custom Ranger powered by a 5.0-liter V-8 borrowed from a Mustang GT. That entry was run with Neil Woolridge Motorsport, a partnership that has been revived for the latest effort. Also involved is M-Sport, which has operated some of Ford's rally programs, including in the World Rally Championship. M-Sport is also building the 5.4-liter V-8 for Ford's new Mustang GT3 race car.
Ford's contender, which is labeled the Ranger T1+, is powered by a turbocharged 3.5-liter V-6. It's currently in the development stage and will make test runs during Spain’s Baja España Aragón and Morocco’s Rally du Maroc rallies in July and October, respectively, before entering the 2024 Dakar Rally.
The 2024 Dakar Rally will run January 5-19 in Saudi Arabia. The route will start in the thousand-year-old city of Al-Ula, crossing the country in the direction of the Empty Quarter, and finishing in Yanbu on the shores of the Red Sea.
Ford said the 2024 rally will be used to gather data for future efforts, including developing a new vehicle for the 2025 rally that will resemble the redesigned 2024 Ranger Raptor performance pickup truck.