Ford Performance to play larger role in blue oval’s Aussie future

The blue oval wants to do more with its Ford Performance brand than just race the Supercar Mustang.  Picture: Mark Horsburgh

Expect to see more performance in Ford’s future.

The blue oval’s global head of product is eager to leverage the brand’s involvement in Supercars, the WRC and NASCAR – plus a potential hi-po Ranger Raptor – to try and revive the concept of ‘win on Sunday, sell on Monday.’

Ford Australia fortunes are tied to the success or failure of the Ranger. The ute typically makes up almost 70 per cent of its total sales, with the rest of the range seemingly overlooked by much of Australia’s car buyers.

But Trevor Worthington, Ford’s vice president global product development and vehicle operations, believes Ford Performance can help change that. The company will race the Mustang in Supercars and NASCAR and will swap its World Rally program to the Puma compact SUV – while continuing to sell the Fiesta ST and Focus ST hot hatches.

The Ford Performance line-up includes the Ford Fiesta ST hot hatch alongside the Mustang and Ranger Raptor

Worthington, a former Ford Australia executive, believes there is more potential to be realised by leveraging its Ford Performance connections. He was speaking at the 2021 Repco Bathurst 1000, which he was visiting with Ford Performance Motorsport global director, Mark Rushbrook.

“Ford Performance is an absolutely iconic brand,” Worthington said. “It’s part of the DNA of the company. To some extent it’s our job – Mark and I – to present alternatives to [how] Ford Performance can be part of the way our business units go to market. I really believe there are more opportunities here than we’ve taken advantage of.

“AB [Ford Australia president and CEO Andrew Birkic] is right behind you. That’s a lot of the discussions we want to have – how can we make Ford more successful everywhere that we play by using Ford Performance assets, Ford Performance intellect and Ford Performance go to market?”

Locally there are no plans to race outside of Supercars at present, and the introduction of the Puma in the WRC will be difficult to leverage as the hotter Puma ST model the new Rally1 machine is based on isn’t sold in Australia.

Ford is using the Puma SUV for its new Rally1 entry

But the upcoming Ranger Raptor could be a candidate for competition. As previously reported by Torquecafe, Worthington and Rushbrook are keen to investigate the possibility of a V8-powered Raptor based on the Bronco Desert Racer that’s available in the US.

Worthington didn’t want to give away any details about a potential off-road racing version of the Ranger Raptor, but his comments make it clear he believes there is more potential for the Ranger ute.

“We’re not here to talk specifics… but we have many, many iconic brands,” the Australian said. “Bronco in the US has a fantastic heritage in off-road racing. One of the things Mark and I and our steering team got together on when I came across, was how can we be more relevant with the Bronco. How can we deliver what the Bronco means to the company?

“You’ve seen Bronco R and Baja, Mark and his team have developed this absolutely fabulous Bronco DR with the Coyote engine to go off-road racing. Customer racing is a very relevant thing for all brands. Bronco is an icon of motor racing. Mustang is an icon. I believe Ranger is one of our global icons as well. I’ve got a view but we’ve got to make it happen.”

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