What do you get when Ford Performance goes all in on their new Ranger Raptor and throws it down a gauntlet of the world’s toughest off-road races? How about a race ready Ranger Raptor born in Australia, as tough as Baja, and now heading back down under to tackle the legendary Tatts Finke Desert Race?
Last year, the Ranger Raptor program came to a head when Ford Performance entered its Australian version, a right-hand drive truck, in the 2022 Baja 1000 and won. The only entry in the stock mid-size class, the Ranger Raptor completed the 828-mile event a full seven hours ahead of its nearest competitor, a Toyota Land Cruiser in the stock full-size class. After the race, the truck was even driven back home to Riverside, California.
Race Ready Ranger Raptor Program Origins
Getting this truck to the start line was a global effort. Using race teams and Ford engineers from both Australia and the United States was key to bringing the program to life. Ford Performance assembled an all-star cast to get the truck ready for Baja.
The Next-Gen Ranger Raptor was built to comply with SCORE’s stock category, designed to show off the capability of stock street trucks. This means the 3-liter twin-turbo V6, 10-speed automatic transmission, driveline, and suspension are all kept stock.
See the race ready ranger raptor in all its glory in this Method Race Wheels feature.
SCORE Stock Full Regulations Include The Following:
- All suspension components must remain as delivered by the manufacturer.
- Any wheels or tires can be used according to the CR12 guidelines.
- Wheel arches can be opened up to 2 inches for tire clearance.
- Body lifts are allowed up to 3 inches with riser blocks at the rear.
- Steering must remain stock, however, the brakes can be upgraded.
- Any engine may be used if it is listed and delivered by the manufacturer
- Stock blocks and heads can be modified.
- All internal parts are open and any exhaust may be used without smog.
- The vehicle must weigh the stock delivery weight minimum.
- The body (including dimensions) must remain stock.
Within a mere 10-week window before the race, the truck was built by Kelly Racing in Australia. It was then flown to the states over to Johnson Valley, California for testing and support. Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Famer Curt LeDuc began overseeing the team operations. From there, Dan Huseman of Huseman Engineering got involved. Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Famer Brad Lovell, who runs one of Ford Performance’s key off-road racing teams, Lovell Racing, was drafted as a pilot to help further develop the race Ranger Raptor. Loren Healy and Jason Hutter were also enlisted. ARB Managing Director Andy Brown, alongside navigator and son Danny Brown, were the final pair of drivers.
Baja 1000 Winning Ford Ranger Raptor Ready To Race Down Under
Continuing the global Ford effort that began with the Baja 1000, the Ranger Raptor will compete in the Production 4WD class at the 2023 Tatts Finke Desert Race. They will use the same race-prepared Ranger Raptor that won its class at the Baja 1000, which was built by Kelly Racing in Australia.
Brad and Byam Lovell of Lovell Racing will again be the lead drivers for Finke. The event marks the first Finke entry for both Ford and Lovell Racing. The Ford Performance team will be assisted with logistics, event management, and vehicle servicing by Walkinshaw Performance.
2023 Tatts Finke Desert Race
So, what is this Tatts Finke Desert Race about and why is it such a big deal that Ford Performance feels compelled to prove itself in the outback? Method Race Wheels has the breakdown of the event.
The Tatts Finke Desert Race is an iconic annual off-road motorsport event for cars, buggies, trophy trucks, SXS, and bikes. The race starts in Alice Springs and sends competitors to Finke as the halfway point. They then race back to the start in a there-and-back format. This unique outback event challenges racers across remote terrain of red dirt, sand, and spinifex. For three days, 650 bikes and quads and 165 buggies and trophy trucks compete annually at this one-of-a-kind race.
Tatts Finke Course
Encompassing about 229 kilometers each way, the race follows an old rail route and ends up crossing the Finke River. The Track is divided into five sections:
- Start/Finish Line to Deep Well (61 km)
- Deep Well to Rodinga (31 km)
- Rodinga to Bundooma (43 km)
- Bundooma to Mount Squires (45 km)
- Mount Squires to Finke (49 km)
It is proclaimed as one of the most difficult offroad courses in one of the most remote places in the world. Last year, the Australian motorsports phenom, Toby Price raced his brand-new TSCO Trophy Truck to an impressive outright win. See the Mitsubishi Triton Australian Spec Trick Truck details in this Method Race Wheel feature.
Method Race Wheels Finke Prologue
The real on-course action starts with the Method Race Wheels Finke prologue (qualifying) competition. Here, competitors tackle the 8KM course starting and finishing in Alice Springs. Racers are allowed one reconnaissance lap of the course and finishing times determine the starting order of Race Day 1.
Tune into the Method Race Wheels Finke Prologue Livestream on Sunday, June 11th, at 2:00 pm PST/ 5:00 pm ET!