Ford Ranger Raptor Returns to Defend Title at Tatts Finke Desert Race

Ford Performance is set to return to Alice Springs next month to defend its class title at the 2024 Tatts Finke Desert Race.

Off-road racing hall of famer Brad Lovell will once again drive the same Ranger Raptor that clinched its class win in both the 2023 Finke Desert Race and the 2022 SCORE-International Baja 1000. Joining him will be his son and co-driver, Byam Lovell.

The duo, who won the Production 4WD class in 2023 with a total time of 5 hours, 56 minutes, and 30 seconds—including a record-breaking run from Aputula to Alice Springs in 2 hours, 51 minutes, and 18 seconds—will benefit from several key upgrades to their race truck for the 2024 event.

“The Ranger Raptor is Ford Performance’s global off-road racing platform, and we are proud to return to the vehicle’s spiritual homeland of the Aussie Outback to defend our 2023 victory,” said Mark Rushbrook, Global Director, Ford Performance Motorsports.

Despite the improvements, the race truck still features the same engine, transmission, and suspension components available in the showroom model.

Returning with a year of experience, the Lovells are eager to defend their title. “The Finke Desert Race is truly unique, with a challenging combination of high speeds and seriously massive whoops,” Brad Lovell remarked. “I’m looking forward to facing off against a stronger field of competitors this year and showing what the Ranger Raptor is capable of.”

Ford Performance will receive vehicle servicing, event management, and logistical support from Walkinshaw Performance, and engineering support from US-based off-road specialists Huseman Engineering.

In 2023, the Ranger Raptor competed at Finke with a similar setup to Baja. This year’s modifications aim to boost performance for the high-speed Australian event by reducing weight and optimizing suspension calibrations. The race truck retains the same suspension hardware and electronics as the standard road-going vehicle but features a new Finke-specific damper calibration.

“We have an exciting challenge ahead of us for Finke in 2024. Last year we came close to securing the overall class record and this year we return against a strong set of new competitors,” said Justin Capicchiano, Ford Performance and Special Vehicles Engineering Manager, Australia. “Finke has an average speed nearly 35 km/h faster than Baja, and by retuning the suspension and cutting weight, the Ranger Raptor will be the perfect weapon for Brad and Byam to defend their title.”

The Finke Desert Race is Australia’s toughest off-road endurance race, spanning over 460 kilometers between Alice Springs and Aputula (Finke), and will take place from June 7-10.

Source link