Over a year after its unveiling and development, the Ford Ranger T1+ co-developed by M-Sport and Neil Woolridge Motorsport will make its global competition début at the Baja España Aragón on 21/22 July. The vehicle will also run the Rallye du Maroc on 12–18 October as one of the final tests before heading off for the 2024 Dakar Rally in January.
“To lead the charge at one of the ultimate global off-road events, the Dakar Rally, has been a goal of ours,” commented Ford Performance racing director Mark Rushbrook. “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 T1+ was revealed in April 2022 by NWM and M-Sport, the former a South African Rally-Raid Championship team while the latter races in the World Rally Championship, with factory backing from Ford Performance. NWM currently fields Rangers without M-Sport support in the SARRC for Woolridge’s sons Gareth and Lance Woolridge.
Although the joint project hoped to race the 2023 Dakar Rally, it was pushed back a year amid supply chain concerns. Dakar veteran Nani Roma joined the programme in May after testing the truck in Morocco for much of spring. Roma is a nine-time winner of the Baja Aragón, with five coming in a car and the other four on a bike.
Reports have stated Laia Sanz is in talks to pilot a second truck, while a third is also on the table.
The T1+ is one of two racing models of Ford’s Ranger pickup line competing in premier off-road competition. The other, a Ford Ranger Raptor built in Australia, completed the Baja 1000 last November and is coming off a record-setting Finke Desert Race.
“The Dakar Rally is truly among the pinnacle of global off-road racing events,” offered M-Sport owner Malcolm Wilson. “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.”
The 2024 Dakar Rally runs on 5–19 January.