Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa says it will step up to the premier class in the production vehicle category of the South African Cross Country Series in 2020 with a new V6-powered Ranger.

The Ford Castrol Cross Country Team, which is run by Neil Woolridge Motorsport, will debut a completely new FIA-class Ranger during the season, powered by a version of the Blue Oval brand’s twin-turbocharged 3,5-litre V6 EcoBoost engine from the F-150 Raptor and GT supercar.

The six-cylinder unit is sited further back in the chassis than before the naturally aspirated V8 that came before it, in a mid-mounted position. It employs a twin air filter and dual intercooler design, while relying on Motec electronic management for fuelling. Its purpose-built fuel cell (courtesy of Aerotec Laboratories in the United Kingdom) boasts a capacity of up to 480 litres. Power is directed to all four corners via a Sadev SC924 Evo gearbox, while lighter front and rear differentials have been matched to symmetrical driveshafts and propshafts.

Carrying the title of Class T champions in 2018 and 2019, the Ford team will now move to the top-tier cross country category.

“Having enjoyed great success in Class T over the last two years, it’s time for us to take on a new challenge in the FIA class, which has grown rapidly to become the most popular and competitive field in the South African championship, and in international cross-country racing,” said team principal, Neil Woolridge.

“This has given us the opportunity to design and develop an all-new Ranger to compete with the best in the world.

“The introduction of turbo petrol engines by the FIA represents an exciting new era for the sport, and for Ford and NWM to be at the forefront of this development is a great accolade,” Woolridge added.

The Pietermaritzburg-built Ranger employs BOS suspension, with the high-performance dampers at each corner delivering 280 mm wheel travel. Air-cooled Brembo six-piston callipers up front and water-cooled six-pot items at the rear take care of braking, while the Ranger upgrades to BF Goodrich KDR2+ tyres.

“As the new regulations were still being finalised at the beginning of this year, we will only debut our first all-new EcoBoost-powered Ranger at the second or third race of the 2020 SACCS season,” Woolridge revealed.

“We are planning to have a full line-up with three new vehicles ready by mid-year, in time for the Botswana Desert Race at the end of June.”