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Ford announces local motorsport plans for 2013

by Sudhir Matai on 14/02/2013

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Team Ford Racing announced its 2013 motorsport plans, with the new Ford Ranger and new Ford Focus ST racing cars unveiled for the first time. Team Ford Racing also confirmed the expansion of its involvement in local motorsport with the announcement that Ford will offer a multi-million-rand driver-reward programme to all Ford-driven vehicles participating in the South African National Rally Championship.

“Ford is the only manufacturer involved in the all of the top three national championship motorsport categories in South Africa,” says John Nagel, Ford Racing manager. “Globally Ford has a rich motorsport heritage and locally we have a longstanding relationship with all three categories. We are looking forward to an exciting season with two completely new vehicles and the introduction of a new rally initiative.”

Off-road racing

The new Ford Ranger will make its SA motorsport debut in the Donaldson Cross Country Championship off-road series. The team will boast a pair of Ford Rangers with Chris Visser and Japie Badenhorst and Lance Woolridge and Ward Huxtable competing in Class SP. The newly designed Rangers were built in Pietermaritzburg with assistance from Ford Motor Company’s Global Product Development division.

Under the hood lies a 5,0-litre V8 engine with variable cam timing, managed by Magneti Marelli management. In addition to its lightweight body and a chassis design that allows for a low centre of gravity, the vehicle is equipped with an independent front suspension and a solid rear axle, eight state of the art BOS dampers and front and rear anti-roll bars.

Bridgestone Production Car Championship

Team Ford Racing will once again compete in the Bridgestone Production Car Championship. It’s challenger for this season will be the all-new Ford Focus ST. The Focus ST is powered by a 184 kW version of Ford’s 2,0-litre EcoBoost engine that features high pressure direct injection, turbocharging, and twin-independent Variable Cam Timing (Ti-VCT).

The two race-prepared Focus STs will for the first time sport the vehicle’s standard ABS system, which supersedes any aftermarket options available, while the team will use Penske suspension and a Cosworth-developed engine management system. Performance will be equalised to other cars in the Class T field by a 36mm air intake restrictor with boost levels capped at 0,7 bar and a minimum weight of 1 300 kg.

Long-time Ford drivers Gary Formato and Shaun Duminy will continue to pilot the vehicles in the series’ Class T category.

South African National Rally Championship

In addition to the two new vehicles making their racing debut this season, Team Ford Racing is excited to introduce its new National Rally Championship programme.

Reigning South African National Rally Champions Mark Cronje and Robin Houghton will once again pilot their S2000 Ford Fiesta, this year with support from Ford’s Dealer Network, while Ford South Africa has created a driver rewards programme that will be open to all Ford drivers in 2013. There will be incentives for the top-finishing Ford driver on the podium as well as the top-finishing Ford driver in the overall championship.

Further to this, Ford will support the S1600 teams with competitive parts pricing on all Ford Genuine Parts. Privateers Ashley Haig-Smith and Craig Parry, the 2012 Class winners in their Ford Fiesta, are key players in this class.

“It is going to be a landmark year for us as we introduce two brand new vehicles into the country’s top motorsport categories and launch our new national rally programme,” says Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa president and CEO, Jeff Nemeth. “Watching the Ranger in action for the first time will be a particularly proud moment for everyone at Ford’s Struandale and Silverton operations. South Africa is one of only three markets around the globe that produces the Ranger for export. It is therefore fitting that it will make its competitive racing debut here in South Africa.”