Blue Oval Thunder Deep in the Andes
Ford Racing has confirmed they will be fielding two South African-built Ford Ranger 4x4 Double Cab trucks at the 35th running of the grueling Dakar Rally in South America on January of 2014. Since desert racing isn’t a sport for the weak, Ford Racing shoehorned a 348 Horsepower 5.0-liter all aluminum V8 engine that puts out 413 pound feet of torque, under the hood to ensure the 4350-pound race trucks had enough power to get them through the harsh terrain of the Dakar Rally. Since some of the stages of the Dakar Rally are incredibly long requiring a lead foot, a 132 gallon fuel cell was added to make sure they could make it through the course and at 8.4 mpg in regular conditions (2.61 mpg in sandy conditions) that doesn’t surprise us at all.
The Rangers were designed and built in South Africa as a collaborative effort of South African as well as global minds. The purpose-built Ford Rangers are being prepared by Pietermaritzburg-based Neil Woolridge Motorsport while logistics will be handled by German-based South Racing.
“A complex jigging system was used in the manufacturing process in order to ensure that each part is built as per the design in order to achieve the perfect fit on every vehicle built” explains Neil Woolridge, Team Manager. “Although the two new Rangers are locally built we received tremendous support from our global counterparts including the likes of Ford’s SVT division.”
Similarly the driver line-up is made up of both international and local contenders including South American native Lucio Alvarez and South African Chris Visser.
“We are extremely proud to be sending these South African-built Rangers to the 2014 Dakar,” says Jeff Nemeth President and CEO of Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa. “Dakar is the ultimate test of man and machine and we are thrilled to have the opportunity to participate with a phenomenal team comprised of local and global expertise.”
The 2014 Dakar Rally will be the sixth successive running in South America and the rally route is going to make for some great racing action. This year the Dakar Rally is continuing its exploration of the Andes regions by incorporating a visit to Bolivia for the first time. There’s no question that this challenging stage will test the physical limits of both man and machine. The event will start in Rosario, Argentina on January 5 and finish in Valparaiso, Chile on January 18 after thirteen stages of competition, logging a total distance of over 8,500 kilometres. That’s just over 5,281 miles for those of us who live in the real world and drive on the correct side of the road!