Ford announced that it would be entering two specially-prepared Rangers pickups in the 2014 Dakar rally, an off-road endurance race that will take place in January 2014 in South America.
The Dakar Rally originated in 1978 as a race from Paris, France to Dakar, Senegal, but due to political and security concerns that caused the 2008 Dakar to be cancelled, the race was moved to South America in 2009, taking place in Argentina and Chile. The route for 2014 will go through Argentina, Bolivia, and Chile and includes more than 5000 miles of rough terrain split up into 13 challenging rally stages. This year’s Dakar Rally, marking the 35th running of the event, features a route that goes through parts of the Andes Mountains for the first time.
The Ford entries for 2014 will be part of Team Ford Racing, and the Rangers will be built and designed in South Africa by a mix of Ford engineers from a range of countries. These Rangers will be based on a four-wheel-drive double cab model and will have a 348hp, 5.0-liter V-8 engine, a six-speed sequential gearbox, permanent four-wheel-drive, and an off-road ready suspension system developed specially for the Dakar Rally. A top speed of just over 100 mph may seem low, but if you consider the types of conditions these Rangers will be facing, that speed is more impressive than it sounds.
It’s a safe bet to say that this race provides Ford with an opportunity for plenty of media coverage, as the race is widely televised throughout the world, with one billion viewers for the 2013 race. Ford South Africa’s Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages will also be keeping track of the team’s progress leading up to and throughout the event.
Both Rangers will have two drivers each, with the first crew made up of Lucio Alvarez and Ronnie Graue, a team that has competed in the past three Dakar Rally races, peaking in 2012 when they finished in fifth place overall. The second Ranger will be driven by Cris Visser and navigated by Japie Badenhorst, both South African drivers taking their first shot at the grueling Dakar.
Although the Ford Ranger compact pickup ended production in the U.S. in 2011, Ford introduced a new global version of the Ranger that year, which is not sold in the U.S. Americans pining away for a Ford pickup smaller than the F-150 may be out of luck, as Ford has no plans to bring the truck here anytime soon.