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Ford Ranger Raptor to take on Baja 1000 with biofuel

Snapshot

  • Modified Raptor will take on Baja 1000 race
  • Ford teamed up with Kelly Racing in local development
  • Running as a testbed for Shell’s biofuel

After last week’s teaser, Ford has announced it will be competing in the SCORE Baja 1000 desert race with a modified new-gen Ranger Raptor ute running on Shell biofuel.

The Ranger Raptor in question – wearing familiar ARB and Herrod stickers – was built and developed in Australia by Kelly Racing, before heading for final evaluation in the US with Lovell Racing ahead of the November 18 race start.

The Baja Event in California is a point-to-point off-road race known as one of the toughest in the world – the perfect place to show off new a new vehicle in extreme conditions.

​“By entering this event, we’re building on the hundreds of thousands of kilometres of development testing and pushing the Ranger Raptor to new extremes,” said Brian Novak, off-road motorsports supervisor at Ford Performance.

Ford did not disclose exact modifications made to the Ranger Raptor for Baja, but it will compete in the event’s ‘Stock class’, among a wide variety of classes and vehicles in the race.

Ford has raced in the Baja 1000 before, most recently in a standard F-150 Raptor that got on the podium in 2017. It’s also played a part in Bronco and Bronco R development, and is a race that the brand won overall back in 1969.

What mods have been made to the Raptor?

As described in SCORE’s Baja regulations, stock class permits only:

“Two or four-wheel drive trucks or SUVs. This is a stock production class and all components must remain stock except for modifications allowed within class rules.”

That means the suspension must remain entirely standard, so the Ranger Raptor will be running the same springs, dampers and geometry as the road cars. Tyres are allowed to increase in size, with two-inches of body chopping permitted for larger rubber.

The Ranger Raptor headed to the Baja 1000 is running a set of competition wheels wrapped in BF Goodrich off-road rubber.

Parts for body strengthening may be added, and these are pretty obvious. The bull bar up front connect to a beefy bashplate to protect the Raptor’s underbody

Instead of a poser plastic sports bar, this Raptor scores a fabricated metal roll hoop with provisions to mount two additional spare wheels, with the tailgate deleted for easy access. The exterior mods are finished off with a snorkel and livery.

Given the ARB sponsorship, it’s likely Ford worked closely with the aftermarket manufacturer to develop the parts for the Raptor racer.

For the race, engine internals and tuning are open but head and block must be standard. Those who’ve been keeping up with Raptor developments will know the ute has a Baja mode built-in that opens the exhaust for a throaty note.

The car wears Herrod Performance stickers – an Aussie tuning house known for Mustang fettling.

When the Ranger Raptor starts rolling out in bigger numbers, there will almost certainly be demand for ECU tunes, turbo upgrades and exhausts pretty swiftly. It looks like home-grown Herrod will have a competition-proven headstart with the Raptor crowd.

Baja as a biofuel testbed

The other unique thing about this Raptor is the 292kW/583Nm 3.0-litre twin-turbo petrol V6 will run on a Shell biofuel blend.

Racing is the perfect testbed for this kind of technology. The Raptor’s fuel will be a mix of Ethanol and 30 per cent ‘bionaptha’, a synthetic fuel made using renewable energy.

The blend will still produce carbon from the tailpipe, but produced with zero-emissions tech rather than being drilled out of the ground is a cleaner result.

“Demonstrating low-carbon fuels in performance settings like the Baja 1000 can help bring biofuels and other clean energy technologies to scale more quickly, and help to make them more available and affordable for everyone,” global director of sustainability, compliance and homologation at Ford, Cynthia Williams, said.

Our original story, below, continues unchanged.

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October 29: Ranger Raptor mystery off-road-focused variant teased

Snapshot

  • 2023 Ford Ranger Raptor off-road variant teased
  • Looks set to feature LED spotlights and a sports bar
  • New special edition model to be unveiled on November 1

Thejust-released 2023 Ford Ranger Raptor looks set to receive an off-road-focused special edition.

A new teaser co-published by Ford Australia and Ford Performance showcases a Ranger Raptor hidden by the darkness of night, with an LED lightbar mounted on what appears to be a sports bar.

A further video suggests it will also feature a pair of LED spotlights up front.

Testing and development doesn’t stop when the sun goes down. 01.11.2022 pic.twitter.com/bMWpUuwNM3

— Ford Australia (@FordAustralia) October 28, 2022

The engine note sounds familiar to the regular Ranger Raptor, which is powered by a 3.0-litre twin-turbocharged petrol V6 – replacing the previous 2.0-litre bi-turbo four-cylinder diesel.

It produces 292kW and 583Nm, and is matched with a 10-speed torque converter automatic transmission.

While other details remain under wraps, the new variant will be unveiled in just three days, on Tuesday, November 1.

As for a name, the previous-generation model featured a Raptor X variant, which included cosmetic changes such as bonnet stripes, red interior stitching, darkened trims and red front tow hooks.

Another possibility could be Ranger Raptor R, following in the footsteps of the larger F-150 Raptor R, or Raptor Baja Edition in a nod to its Baja drive mode and off-road capabilities.

Whatever the name, it won’t be long before we know all the details on the new variant, so stay tuned to 4X4 Australia on Tuesday for the latest news.

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