An international collaboration between two rallying outfits, the local Neil Woolridge Motorsport (NWM) will partner with British M-Sport to prepare a Dakar-ready bakkie for Ford Performance, set to take to the dunes of Arabia in 2024.
Neil Woolridge Motorsport (NWM), has long been competing with Ford machinery in the local rallying scene. Now, the South African Cross-country Championship Series contenders will be partnering with the established and globally renowned M-Sport to prepare a T1+ Ranger bakkie that will give Ford Performance the opportunity to compete for victory on the Arabian sands of the Dakar rally. No stranger to rally raid, the Pietermaritzburg-based team contends against the factory-backed Toyota team in several events within Southern Africa throughout the year with their bakkie frequently scoring podium results.
“We cannot underestimate the enormity of the challenge ahead of us. We need to finish and learn first with Ranger T1+ and partners like M-Sport and NWM, who bring their expertise to bear. Together, we can do amazing things in the sand dunes of the Arabian Peninsula,” says Mark Rushbrook; Global Director for Ford Performance Motorsports.
Starting from 2024, the locally built Ranger wearing the previous generation model facade will be competing in the Dakar rally. Ford further states that by the 2025 Dakar Rally, a completely new, custom Ranger Raptor will be designed and built by Ford Performance and M-Sport fitting the Dakar’s T1+ class requirements.
M-Sport has served alongside Ford in the international motoring sphere for over 20 years with the majority of their expertise being devoted to the FIA World Rally Championship. The latest fruit of this labour is the M-Sport Ford Puma HybridRally1 car piloted by Scandinavian Ott Tänak and French rookie Pierre-Louis Loubet. As part of Ford’s motorsport offensive including Le Mans, and a Red Bull Racing partnership in the top flight of motorsport, M-Sport will also be undertaking the engine builds for the Mustang GT3 program.
Both NWM and M-Sport will serve Ford in fulfilling their four pillars of being competitive contenders in a spectrum of motorsports.
“The Dakar Rally is truly among the pinnacle of global off-road racing events,” said Malcolm Wilson, M-Sport managing director. “We’ve achieved great success over the years with Ford in FIA WRC rally racing and can’t wait to apply this same level of focus, energy and effort to competing with Ranger in Dakar.”