Ford enters Ranger Raptor in Australian off-road endurance race

Ford is returning to the Finke Desert Race with a purpose-built Ranger Raptor. Known and feared as the toughest off-road race in Australia, a country known for vast swathes of particularly inhospitable terrain, the event will take participants on a round-trip trek across the Outback.

This isn’t the first time a Ranger Raptor lines up on the Finke Desert Race starting grid. Father-and-son team Brad Lovell and Byam Lovell will drive the same truck that they raced in the 2023 edition of the event; they took first place in the Production 4WD category but fell short of the overall victory. The senior Lovell was also part of the team that drove this exact truck in the 2022 Baja 1000, where it also won its class.

Ford Performance isn’t merely recycling an old race truck, however. The company points out that the average speed during the Finke Desert Race is about 21 miles per hour faster than at the Baja 1000, so it made numerous changes to the suspension system’s calibration. Many of the updates installed for previous races remain: There’s a beefy front skid plate, a snorkel intake, and auxiliary lights at the base of the windshield, among several other bolt-on parts. Peeking inside reveals a pair of front sport seats, a roll cage, and fewer trim pieces.

The rest of the truck is surprisingly stock. The twin-turbocharged, 3.0-liter V6, the 10-speed automatic transmission, and the suspension system’s hardware are off-the-shelf parts; only the suspension calibration has been tweaked. Keeping the Ranger mostly stock makes it eligible for the Production 4WD category. Two other cars will race in it: a Chevrolet Silverado ZR2 and a 76-Series Toyota Land Cruiser.

The 2024 edition of the Finke Desert Race will take place on June 9-10. It starts in Alice Springs, takes racers to Apatula, and ends back in Alice Springs. That’s about 285 miles round-trip. For context, the Ranger logged a time of 5 hours, 56 minutes, and 30 seconds in 2023.

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