Having taken on the Baja 1000, a near-stock Ford Ranger Raptor will this year test its mettle at the Finke Desert Race in the Northern Territory.
The Raptor will be piloted by Brad and Byam Lovell, who also drove the car to victory at the Baja 1000.
Although it’s competing in the Production Class, the racing Raptor has a few key differences to the Rangers available to the public.
Along with the requisite motorsports and safety kit inside, the Finke racer features proper off-road wheels and tyres, extra lighting, tougher underbody protection and bash plates, and a 160-litre fuel cell in the tray.
At launch, Ford said the frame in the Raptor had been so heavily reinforced relative to the regular car (and its predecessor) it was almost a unique platform.
Besides owners pushing hard on back roads, and the occasional punter keen to jump their car, clearly some of that reinforcement was aimed at readying the Raptor for the desert.
Under the skin, the road car’s suspension comprises aluminium upper and lower control arms, long-travel front and rear springs, and a refined Watt’s linkage equipped with coils at the rear.
There are also 2.5-inch Fox Live Valve position-sensitive dampers linked to the drive modes. These shocks – billed as the “most sophisticated ever on Ranger Raptor” – are filled with Teflon-infused oil to cut friction by a claimed 50 per cent.
They offer maximum damping force in the last 25 per cent of shock travel to protect against severe bottom outs, such as on landing. Ford adds the system can also stiffen the rear dampers to prevent the Raptor from squatting under hard acceleration.
Power in the road-going Raptor comes from a 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged V6 making 292kW and 583Nm, sent to all four wheels through a full-time four-wheel drive system.
We’d wager the drivers will be running in Baja Mode, which primes the engine’s anti-lag system, adds weight to the steering, loosens off the electronic driver aids, and lets the exhaust sing from the top of its lungs.
The car will be serviced and managed by Walkinshaw Performance, which Ford says is a sister to the Walkinshaw Andretti United Supercars team that recently switched from Holden Commodores to Mustangs.
The Finke Desert Rally will run from June 9-12 this year.
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