Ford offers big hint at Dakar campaign for Ranger Raptor

The Ford Ranger Raptor features a big hint at a Dakar Rally campaign. Picture: Speedcafe

The Ford Ranger Raptor features a big hint at a Dakar Rally campaign. Picture: Speedcafe

The Ford Ranger Raptor competing at this weekend’s Tatts Finke Desert Race features a subtle but detailed hint that the Blue Oval may tackle the Dakar Rally.

The Kelly Racing-built Raptor made its debut in last November’s Baja 1000 and has now been brought back to its home country for another iconic offroad event.

However, that is unlikely the extent of its racing programme, based on some features of the livery which Speedcafe/Torquecafe has spotted this weekend in the Northern Territory.

Not only does the tray have three small camel stickers, they are joined by a set of coordinates (14°41’34″N 17°26’48″W) which corresponds to Dakar, Senegal.

The Dakar Rally is nowadays a Dakar in name rather than being tied to a specific location, and is currently held within Saudi Arabia, but the ‘easter egg’ on the Raptor would appear to be an indication of Ford’s intentions.

Ford Performance Motorsports Global Director Mark Rushbrook was queried during a recent call for selected media, including Speedcafe, about the notion of competing in Dakar and/or other Middle Eastern events.

“Yeah, certainly a lot of thoughts, a lot of discussion,” he responded at the time.

“Our focus today is talking about Finke and including that as our next step to go more global with our offroad racing.

“We are very committed to Broncos racing in North America with Baja and King of the Hammers.

“We are very committed to using Baja for Raptors in general.

“We’ve got a great line-up of Raptors now, globally, and several different versions of them with Bronco Raptor, F-150 Raptor and Ranger Raptor, so that’s a great proving ground for us.

“So, this truck [Ranger] is as we raced it at Baja and as we’ll race it at Finke; it’s working very well for that.

“Offroad Racing is becoming more global, as most motorsports are, and the opportunity with globalisation of those classes to race in more and more places.

“So, I guess, look for more in the future as we go more and more global.”

The 2024 Dakar Rally takes place on January 5-19.

CLICK HERE to watch the Finke prologue

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