Wednesday, April 17, 2024

New Ford Mustang Mach-E Rally to debut at Rebelle Rally

As automakers continue to embrace electric power, Ford Motor Company‘s own route has taken it into the off-road realm. The 2024-bound Ford Mustang Mach-E Rally is a new addition to the Mustang Mach-E series that integrates the spirit of Ford’s World Rally Championship challengers, and will race for the first time at the Rebelle Rally on 12–21 October.

The Mustang Mach-E, a crossover SUV that is otherwise a cousin in the Ford Mustang family, went on sale in 2020. The Rally model is a variant of the Mach-E GT Performance Edition, both capable of 480 horsepower though the Rally is intended to be faster and stronger in order to run on non-pavement terrain. By comparison, the standard rear-wheel-drive Mach-E generates about 266 or 290 horsepower (the latter if it has an extended battery pack) whereas the AWD version tops out at 266 or 346 hp.

The car’s battery can run for approximately 250 miles (402.33 km) on a single charge, though Ford has emphasised that the average daily drive is only thirty-seven miles (59.54 km).

As an off-road model, it takes heavy inspiration from the Ford Focus RS that competed in the World Rally Championship in the 2000s and on two constructor’s titles. It has a raised suspension of 20 mm with MagneRide shocks and specialty tuned springs, while the nineteen-inch alloy wheels use 235/55 R19 Michelin CrossClimate2 tyres. Other rally-inspired elements include built-in fog lights in the front fascia, a front hook for towing and recovery, a Focus-based rear spoiler, and underside shield.

Ford tested the car on a new purpose-built rally course at the company’s Michigan Proving Ground, designed by rallycross drivers.

“Mustang Mach-E Rally puts Ford’s decades of passion for rally championships around the world right in the hands of our customers,” stated Ford CEO Jim Farley. “It takes Mustang where it hasn’t been before: to gravel and dirt roads. Inspired by true driving enthusiasts, a driving experience like never before for the pure joy of driving.”

Kaleigh Miller and Bailey Campbell will pilot the Mach-E Rally at the Rebelle Rally, competing in the X-Cross category for vehicles without a two-speed transfer case. Miller is a three-time champion of the Rebelle 4×4 class, with victories coming in 2016, 2017, and 2020. Hailing from an off-road racing pedigree, Campbell is an Ultra4 Series and King of the Hammers veteran who has also raced the Baja 1000 and Mint 400 alongside her father Shannon.

Ford has dominated X-Cross with the Ford Bronco as the thrice defending class winners, with Melissa Clark and Chris Benzie claiming the 2022 race. The Bronco also competes in 4×4 with 2020 X-Cross winners Shelby Hall and Penny Dale; the former’s grandfather Rod Hall was a Baja 1000 legend whose 1968 race-winning Bronco is one of the most iconic vehicles in desert racing history. For the 2023 Rally, Ford will field two Bronco Raptors with Hall and Rori Lewis piloting one and Laura Wanlass and Maria Guitar sharing the other, the Bronco Sport for Clark and Jessica Moore, and the Bronco WildTrak for Karisa Haydon and Trista Smith.

“Ford has entered vehicles in the Rebelle Rally for the last three years and now is the right time for an electric effort,” commented Mach-E lead engineer Donna Dickson. “We’re excited to see Mustang Mach-E Rally take on 1,500 miles of the amazing dirt roads, trails, and two tracks of California and Nevada.”

The Rebelle Rally is a regularity race, meaning navigation skills take priority over setting the fastest time as in traditional rally racing. It is the first women-only rally raid in the United States, while similar events exist globally such as the Rallye Aïcha des Gazelles du Maroc in Morocco and the Rally Jameel in Saudi Arabia.