Ford's racing Ranger steps up to the top class with new turbo model
Port Elizabeth - Things are about to get heated in South Africa’s Cross Country racing series, with Ford’s racing outfit set to step up to the top-tier FIA-class, where the team will go up against Toyota Gazoo’s Hilux contenders.
The Blue Oval's new weapon comes in the form of a completely redesigned FIA-class Ranger, which was developed and built by Ford's long-time racing partner Neil Woolridge Motorsport (NWM) and powered by a 3.5-litre twin-turbo V6 petrol engine - which is a world-first for cross country racing.
Three of these new Rangers are expected to debut by mid-year, and to plug the gap, upgraded V8-powered Rangers will be used for the first two races, driven by double Class T champion Lance Woolridge and two-time Brazilian champion Marcos Baumgart.
The new FIA-class V6 Rangers are powered by the same twin-turbo V6 that powers the F-150 Raptor and Ford GT supercar.
Compared with the Class T model, the engine is located further back in a mid-mounted position that optimises weight distribution. Power goes to all four wheels through a lighter SADEV SC924 Evo gearbox, and the differentials have also shed some weight, while the symmetrical driveshafts and propshafts are said to be easier to replace during service stops.
“Having enjoyed great success in Class T over the last two years, it’s time for us to take on a new challenge in the FIA-class which has grown rapidly to become the most popular and competitive field in the South African championship, and in international cross country racing,” said NWM team principal Neil Woolridge. “This has given us the opportunity to design and develop an all-new Ranger to compete with the best in the world.”
The FIA class vehicle is a clean-sheet design created to suit the new 2020 regulations introduced by the FIA, and the team is under no illusion that it's going to hit the podium straight off the bat, but Woolridge is confident that by 2021 the team will be in a position to challenge for the title.
NWM will also continue to support three privateers in Class T with V8-powered racing Rangers.