There are plenty of reliable utes on the market, but how many of them can take on 1600km of off-road racing, with another 600km commute, and take out first place in their class? Not many manufacturers are game to find out, but Ford just finished running their Next-Gen Ranger Raptor to victory in the infamous Baja 1000. Then drove it back home to Riverside in California.
“This is the Baja 1000, one of the toughest off-road races in the world,” said Mark Rushbrook, Global Director, Ford Performance Motorsports. “It’s a key proving ground for Ford Performance and our vehicles to earn the badge of Raptor. This effort has been a global effort for Ford Performance from the beginning, with Ford Australia having done the design and initial development signoff, then shipping it to the States and working with all of our partners to pool all available resources for this common goal. It takes a great truck and it takes great people. We’ve proved that we have both of those on a global level.”
“What we had was a really good global team working with a really good global truck in Ranger,” said Brian Novak, Off-Road Motorsports Supervisor, Ford Performance. “Ford Performance Australia put their heart and soul into this project with Kelly Racing to start us off. When we took it over on the North American side with Lovell Racing and Huseman Engineering, it all came together seamlessly. There’s just so many people that came together to do this, and I couldn’t be prouder.”
“It was the only road-legal vehicle to compete and actually finish. A Lexus LX600 and Toyota LandCruiser both failed to cross the finish line at all.”
While the race-prepped Ranger Raptor might look like a million bucks, it’s essentially a stock Raptor where it counts. A cage and stripped interior team up with a flash livery and 160L fuel cell, but under the bonnet, the Raptor runs the same powertrain and suspension you can buy at your local Ford dealer. The only major change was running Shell’s new eco-friendly biofuel.
“This effort showed that there’s no compromise in performance,” added Novak. “We’re here, finishing the Baja 1000 and winning our class, all on a biofuel. It’s so impressive that this was all done on a stock Ford Performance powertrain, too. It’s been exciting to work with Shell on this project.”
We’ve gotta come clean on one point. The Raptor won its class because it was the only vehicle in it. But that’s actually more impressive. It was the only road-legal vehicle to compete and actually finish. A Lexus LX600 and Toyota LandCruiser both failed to cross the finish line at all.