Saturday, April 20, 2024

Nani Roma, Gareth Woolridge to lead Ford Ranger T1+ assault

After much anticipation, M-Sport and Neil Woolridge Motorsport‘s Ford Ranger T1+ joint project will finally make its racing début on 21/22 July at the Baja España Aragón. Nani Roma and Gareth Woolridge will each pilot a truck with Alex Haro and Boyd Dreyer as their co-drivers, respectively.

The programme recently concluded testing, which primarily took place in Morocco, Dubai, and South Africa. The truck covered over 10,000 kilometres in its tests, while the setup has also been employed by NWM for their independent T1+ entries in the South African Rally-Raid Championship.

Now fully recovered from his cancer battle that sidelined him for much of 2022 and the 2023 Dakar Rally, Roma has been testing the Ranger since spring. The twice Dakar champion will be going for his fifth Baja Aragón victory on four wheels, the last coming in 2009, and tenth overall.

“This has been a really nice process developing the Ranger T1+,” said Roma. “The car has changed a lot since first time I tested it compared to the last test we recently completed in Morocco. All the mechanics and engineers have done a super job in stabilising the car while improving reliability and increasing its performance capability. We have been working together in a good direction, the Ranger is a strong car, we still have some points to work on but it’s in a great position right now.”

Woolridge, the son of NWM’s eponymous owner, currently leads the SARRC in a Ranger T1+ after finishing third in the 2022 standings. In June, he and his brother Lance Woolridge finished 1–2 in the SARRC’s premier TGR 1000 Desert Race. He also works as the lead technician at NWM, overseeing the development of the Ranger T1 before working on the T1+ project.

“The partnership between NWM and M-Sport is really great, and I think it will yield strong results for both parties,” Woolridge commented. “M-Sport has brought a lot of experience to the table which has helped significantly already, especially with the fine tuning and getting the last bits out of the car. I think NWM has helped and will continue to help, to educate and teach more about the rally-raid ethos as M-Sport comes from a predominantly rally background. It’s important to understand some of the potential shortcomings and differences between the two disciplines which is where NWM has helped most. The professionalism of M-Sport is great and it’s great to work with the entire team.”

Following the Baja España Aragón, the team will run the Rallye du Maroc on 12–18 October as a final dress rehearsal before joining the Dakar Rally in January 2024.