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Dakar Dakar

M-Sport's Dakar challenger completes main development phase

The Ford Ranger T1+ developed by M-Sport and Neil Woolridge Motorsport that will tackle the Dakar Rally next year has completed its main development phase.

Ford Ranger Raptor for 2024 Dakar Rally

M-Sport, working in conjunction with NWM, revealed plans to take on one of the world's most gruelling rallies last year, which has resulted in an extensive development programme to prepare a Ford Ranger, initially conceived by South African firm NWM.

The plan is to create a Ranger T1+ available to be purchased by customers, with orders set to open next month. M-Sport and NWM will then combine with Ford Performance to develop an all-new Ranger for Ford's full factory tilt at the Dakar from 2025.

The 2024 Ranger has been tested in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East to understand the development direction. In total, over 10,000 kilometres of development testing – equivalent to over two Dakar Rally distances have been completed.

The programme has resulted in the Ranger undergoing updates to the chassis to increase its strength and rigidity. Bespoke dampers developed by Reiger have now been fitted to the Ranger. The package has passed its homologation inspection and will now be fitted to the car.

"We studied the chassis carefully to find opportunities for structural improvements on stiffness and durability. These changes were made and validated through a rigorous test programme" said M-Sport technical director Chris Williams.

"To accelerate our development we wanted to go to Reiger for their Dakar experience. Collaboratively we created a new damper and wishbone setup resulting in an improved motion ratio and making full use of Reiger's latest damper technology, designed specifically for rally raid.

"We've tested the new setup in Fontjoncouse, and twice in Morocco, with significant improvements in performance.

Ford Ranger Raptor for 2024 Dakar Rally

Ford Ranger Raptor for 2024 Dakar Rally

Photo by: Ford

"One of the biggest challenges has been optimising the cooling packages on the vehicle. We focussed on simplifying and improving efficiency of the coolers.

"Using CFD we have studied the aerodynamics to understand the vehicle air flow and learn how best to extract heat at different speeds. To validate our changes we've tested in Dubai, South Africa and Morocco which all had ambient temperatures in excess of 40 degrees Celsius.

"The next phase for the Ranger T1+ is to see how it fares in competition. The main development phase is now complete, we need to prove it in competition. From here we will compete in more relevant competitions to ensure we are match fit ahead of the 2024 Dakar Rally."

NWM founder Neil Woolridge added: "We value the partnership with M-Sport and Ford Performance, and the opportunity it has created to accelerate the development of our T1+ Ranger in preparation for the 2024 Dakar Rally. This will allow us to showcase the performance and capabilities of our car on the international stage."

"The original T1+ Ranger package was very good, and our own testing and development in South Africa and our participation in the South African Rally Raid Championship has already seen significant improvements and competitiveness.

"We look forward to seeing how the updated T1+ Ranger fares on the international rally raid scene."

M-Sport is yet to reveal its driver roster for next year's Dakar Rally although it is understood an announcement will be made in the coming weeks.

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