Home / Social media / News / The Ford Performance Ranger T1+ is ready for Dakar 2024 - and it's awesome because it has SA roots.


Unless you’re a proper follower of the world-famous Dakar rally race, it may surprise you to learn that in all the years that the event has taken place, Ford hasn’t had an official entry. Just about every other manufacturer has tried its hand at the world’s toughest overland race, and earlier this year the top dogs at Ford decided that it was time to enter. The company would enter a Ford Ranger, although it’s not the new-generation version - yet. The 2024 Dakar race in Saudi Arabia will be used as a test & tune event with the only plan being to enter, race and gather as much data as possible with the end goal being a finish at the very least. Anything that represents a good race will just be a massive added bonus. The competition version of the Ford Ranger is as extreme as it looks, and under the skin, it has all the right bits in all the right places to get the job done. While the Ranger is new to most people, locals will no doubt recognise it thanks to its success in the South African Rally-Raid Championship where it’s campaigned by Gareth Woolridge and Boyd Dreyer under the Ford SA/Castrol and NWM banners. The latter is quite important, the acronym stands for Neal Woolridge Motorsports and it’s the company that is responsible for building these Rangers. With partners M-Sport and Ford Performance on board, the Ranger has all the right people involved to pretty much guarantee a good attack on the Dakar route. "To lead the charge at one of the ultimate global off-road events – the Dakar Rally – has been a goal of ours,” said Mark Rushbrook, Global Director, Ford Performance Motorsports. “We cannot underestimate the enormity of the challenge ahead of us. We need to finish and learn first with Ranger T1+ and partners like M-Sport and NWM, who bring their expertise to bear. Together, we can do amazing things in the sand dunes of the Arabian Peninsula.”

M-Sport is regarded as a leading developer and campaigner of the M-Sport Ford Puma HybridRally1 in the FIA World Rally Championship. The company is also the engine builder for the popular Mustang GT3 race program, which is why they’re part of the team. Neil Woolridge Motorsports has been a pioneer in building the Rally-Raid Ranger at its Pietermaritzburg factory, and the Woolridge family has been competing in the Rangers in various local races, so the only thing these need to be tested for is longevity. The local races, while tough, are usually only a few hundred kilometres long and the Dakar is a stone’s throw away from an 8,000km race. The Ranger T1+ is powered by Ford’s 3.5-litre V6 EcoBoost lump that’s had a fair bit of tweaking to pump out a healthy 300 kW with 600 Nm of torque in the South African races, and it could easily make more power but it’s limited by FIA class regulations. “Our first time in Dakar will be a learning adventure that will help inform how we compete in the future,” said Rushbrook. “But as with all racing, we’re not just racing to win, we’re also racing to help build better products for our customers.” “The Dakar Rally is truly among the pinnacle of global off-road racing events,” said Malcolm Wilson, M-Sport managing director. “We’ve achieved great success over the years with Ford in FIA WRC rally racing and can’t wait to apply this same level of focus, energy and effort to competing with Ranger in Dakar.” Now we have another reason to watch the 2024 leg of the Dakar that starts on Friday 05 January and runs to Friday the 19th - a South African-built car in the field. Or should we say another one, a bunch of T1+ Nissans are also made here in SA.

Take a look at the YouTube video that shows off this proper stunner of a purpose-built rally raid Ford Ranger that will compete in the 20204 Dakar race in the T1+ category. Here you see it in its development camo being performance-tested, and if what you see here is anything to go by this will be a strong contender in the gruelling overland race. If you want summin' built right, have it done in South Africa: Ford Performance, M-Sport and NWM going to Dakar | Ford Performance South Africa

Be sure to check out our YouTube channel here for more exciting and exclusive SXdrv content! And don't forget to smash that subscribe button!

Audi SA is bringing limited numbers of Black Edition models in for 2024 - and they look great.
Love him or hate him, Max Verstappen is a record-breaking machine!
The Lamborghini Huracan STO SC 10 Anniversario is another limited edition we'd bite someone in the face for.
The new 5-door Suzuki Jimny has arrived - and it's a lil' firecracker!
Rimac's mighty Nevera EV adds yet another speed record to it's tally - in reverse its faster than most cars forwards!
Ford South Africa turns 100 - announces awesome additions to product lineup, including Mustang Mach-E!
Nissan showed off a trio of interesting concepts at SEMA 2k23 - SA needs a Sentra again!
Toyota's tasty Tacoma X-Runner Concept revealed at SEMA 2k23.
Did Toyota create the best FJ Cruiser ever for SEMA 2k23? The FJ Bruiser is boss!