World Rally-Raid Championship

2024 NWM Ford Ranger T1+ revealed

2 Mins read
Credit: Neil Woolridge Motorsport

Neil Woolridge Motorsport will look to defend their South African Rally-Raid Championship in a new Ford Ranger T1+ sporting a redesigned front end. Reigning champion Gareth Woolridge and Boyd Dreyer will pilot the #200, on the heels of their Dakar Rally d├ębut, while brother Lance Woolridge and Kenny Gilbert are in the #234.

Gareth entered the Dakar in January after winning the SARRC. His race was upended by a rollover in Stage #7 that knocked him out of the overall, though he was able to reach the finish; although he finished forty-first overall in the Ultimate class, he placed as high as seventh on the final day. The programme was fielded by NWM in partnership with WRC team M-Sport, and he also had two-time Dakar winner Nani Roma as a team-mate.

The redesigned Ranger, however, does not have M-Sport involvement, though the team still maintains relations with NWM ally Past-Racing in both rally and rally raid. Based on the production model, the 2024 Ranger’s body has been reworked to improve airflow and vehicle cooling. This is particularly emphasised by the new grille that leads into the front cooling package, the latter of which has been shrunk to allow more space in the engine bay for mechanics to work. The wheelarches have also been widened to channel air into the dampers.

Its approach/departure angles are now more fluid for better aerodynamics, which was partly achieved by lowering the hood to help the driver see out the windshield. The differential guards on both ends have been strengthened to better protect the vehicle. Underneath the front is a modular bashplate.

Other elements such as the engine and suspension remain the same. The former is 3.5-litre twin-turbo V6 Ford EcoBoost engine like its predecessor, though the engine control software has been updated. The suspension entails bespoke dampers 76 millimetres in diameter with 350 mm of wheel travel, the latter complying with FIA T1+ regulations.

“We are eagerly looking forward to the start of the 2024 season as we debut our new car that we are confident raises the bar once again,” said NWM boss Neil Woolridge. “All of the testing, development and racing experience gained at the highest level throughout the 2023 SARRC season, followed by our competitive showing at the 2024 Dakar Rally with top-ten stage results, has been built into our next-generation NWM Ford Ranger.”

Shell has joined the team as a primary sponsor, replacing Castrol after five years.

The 2024 SARRC season begins this weekend with the Nkomazi 400. While Past-Racing, a Spanish outfit, only competes in the SARRC on occasion, they intend to race the new Ranger in the World Rally-Raid Championship, 2025 Dakar Rally, and any Bajas that interest them. Eduard Pons raced the previous Ranger for Past in the latest W2RC round, the BP Ultimate Rally-Raid earlier in April, with M-Sport backing but retired due to an alternator failure.

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Justin is not an off-road racer, but he writes about it for The Checkered Flag.
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