Monday, April 15, 2024

Ford Ranger Raptor to tackle Finke Desert Race

The Ford Ranger Raptor passed its racing début with flying colours when Brad Lovell piloted the truck to the finish of the SCORE International Baja 1000, the toughest off-road race in North America, in November. On 9–12 June, the truck will cross the Pacific Ocean to try its hand at Australia’s equivalent event, the Tatts Finke Desert Race. Lovell will compete in the Production 4WD category.

“Bringing the Ranger Raptor to the Finke Desert Race is the next stage of Ford Performance’s strategic global racing plan,” Ford Performance Motorsports global director Mark Rushbrook stated. “Ranger is our flagship platform for global off-road racing, and after conquering the Baja 1000 in the Stock Mid-Size class, we decided the next stop should be back to Australia, where the production truck was developed, to tackle the toughest off-road race down under.

“We know this truck has all the requirements to be successful at this event, but we’re not going to be resting on our laurels. This will be a full Ford Performance effort to ensure we are putting our best foot forward for this event.”

The Ranger Raptor is a collaborative project between Ford Performance, Lovell’s eponymous team, former Supercars team Kelly Racing, and Australian automotive parts supplier ARB 4×4 Accessories. The involvement of Australian parties is based on the Ranger Raptor being produced in the country rather than in America. Lovell, a 2022 Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Fame inductee, races a traditional Ford Bronco in Ultra4.

Kelly built the truck before it was brought to the Americas for testing and eventual racing at the Baja 1000. While the only entry in the Stock Mid-Size class class for production pickup trucks, Lovell and his team-mates Jason Hutter and Australian Off Road Racing Championship regulars Andy and Danny Brown successfully completed the race. Their time was good for eighty-third overall of 136 total finishers.

Lovell and his son Byam Lovell will race the truck at Finke in their maiden starts there. The effort will be supported by Walkinshaw Performance, a subsidiary of Supercars team Walkinshaw Andretti United that competes in the AORC.

“We have great experience in the Australian Off-Road Championship, and at Finke, so to bring that experience to partner with the might of Ford Performance and Ford Australia with the Baja 1000 winning Ranger Raptor is sensational,” Walkinshaw Performance manager Gareth Brown commented. “We will do everything in our power to ensure the best possible result.”

Although on opposite sides of the Pacific, the Baja 1000 and Finke Desert Race have seen various crossovers. Perhaps the most notable is reigning Finke winner and eight-time champion Toby Price, who currently competes in SCORE International events in a Trophy Truck.

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