Ranger Raptor racer takes on Finke after Baja 1000 win

After taking on the Baja 1000, a near-stock Ford Ranger Raptor will demonstrate its skills at this weekend’s Finke Desert Race in the Northern Territory.

The Raptor will be driven by American father-son team Brad and Byam Lovell, who were also part of the team that won the Baja 1000 in the same car.

“Compared to the Baja, there’s less danger here so you can attack hard,” said racer Brad Lovell, who said he’ll be driving the car mostly four-wheel drive.

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“Speeds are faster here because the terrain is… smoother. It’s an endurance race, but it’s certainly more of a sprint race than the Baja 1000.”

delivered Credit: CarExpert

The race itself takes place from June 11th to 12th and consists of two legs, each about 226 km long.

Unlike the Baja 1000, where the Ute had no competition in its category, Finke has a handful of other vehicles in its class.

Despite competing in the production class and featuring an unchanged powertrain, the racing Raptor has some key differences from the publicly available Rangers.

In addition to the necessary motorsport and safety equipment inside, the Finke race car has suitable off-road wheels and tires, additional lighting (but less than the Baja), plastic rear windows, more robust underbody protection and bumper plates and a 160-litre fuel cell engine in the subject.

delivered Credit: CarExpert

“We’re playing around with the sport mode setting. So when you put the shocks in sport mode, the dampers are locked in full extension,” said Justin Capicchiano, Ford’s manager of performance and specialty vehicle programs.

“So when you pull it out, it doesn’t roll onto the wheel as much, it basically just holds them down and pushes the tires into the ground,” he added, although he ruled out plans for such a recovery mode in a production Raptor.

Other changes since the Ute tackled the Baja 1000 include different tow straps and changes to the fuel filter. Also, here it drives with a hatchback, which was not the case in Mexico.

At launch, Ford said the Raptor’s frame has been strengthened so much compared to the regular car (and its predecessor) that it’s almost a unique platform.

delivered Credit: CarExpert

Aside from owners who pushed hard on back roads and the occasional customer who was keen to jump their car, some of that reinforcement was obviously aimed at getting the Raptor ready for the desert.

Underneath the body, the road car’s suspension consists of aluminum upper and lower wishbones, long-travel springs front and rear, and a sophisticated Watt’s linkage with coils at the rear.

There are also 2.5-inch Fox Live Valve position-sensitive dampers linked to riding modes. These shocks — billed as the “most demanding yet on the Ranger Raptor” — are filled with Teflon oil to reportedly reduce friction by 50 percent.

They offer maximum damping force in the last 25 percent of the spring deflection and thus protect against severe bottoming out, for example when landing. Ford adds that the system can also stiffen the rear dampers to keep the Raptor from squatting under hard acceleration.

delivered Credit: CarExpert

The roadworthy Raptor’s power comes from a 3.0-liter, twin-turbocharged V6 that produces 292 kW of power and 583 Nm of torque, sent to all four wheels via permanent four-wheel drive.

The car is serviced and managed by Walkinshaw Performance, which Ford says is a sister of the Walkinshaw Andretti United Supercars team, which recently switched from Holden Commodores to Mustangs.

As for what happens to this particular vehicle after it completes the Finke, Ford says the end goal is to make it a museum piece.

“Whatever we do with it after that, it will never be destroyed,” said Mr. Capicchiano.

MORE: All Ford Rangers

James Brien

James Brien is a 24ssports U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. James Brien joined 24ssports in 2021 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing: jamesbrien@24ssports.com.

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