Car giant Ford has announced it will contend next year’s Dakar Rally through a collaboration headed up by its South Africa division.
Ford will enter into the 2014 edition of one of motorsport’s most iconic and testing competitions with two purpose-built Rangers. The two Fords will be driven by Lucio Alvarez and Chris Visser.
Alvarez took part in this year’s Dakar Rally, the Argentinean winning the opening stage and finishing 10th overall with the Overdrive Toyota team, even though at one point the driver was 27th thanks to mechanical issues.
His teammate Visser – the 2011 South African cross-country champion – will be making his Dakar debut in one of the latest new Ford cars.
The two Ford Rangers will be prepared by Neil Woolridge Motorsport and will be aided by Ford’s global product development group. One of the vehicles is already set to go and will undergo testing in August, while the second is planned to be ready for October.
Ford has armed the Rangers with 5.0-litre V8s picked straight from the Mustang producing 350bhp; while to tackle the gruelling environment, there is a six-speed sequential gear box, liquid-cooled rear brakes and a 132-gallon fuel tank.
Taking place in Bolivia for the first time, the 2014 Dakar Rally will run from January 5-18.