Did you know that over 1 billion people tune in to watch the Dakar Rally?
That’s a staggering number for a race that used to run from Paris to Dakar until 2008 and then moved to South America from 2009 until the present time. Next year, the Dakar Rally returns to the spotlight, running from Rosario, Argentina all the way to Valparaiso, Chile.
Ford has always been one of the brands that regularly participates in the rally and for the 2014 installment, the automaker is bringing a pair of Ford Rangers for the 5,281-mile race to Chile.
Mind you, these aren’t your typical T6 Ranger 4×4 Double Cabs that will brave the elements in Argentina, Bolivia, and Chile. Built and prepared by Neil Woolridge Motorsport, the Ranger Dakar Rally has been carefully tinkered with to be able to withstand grueling terrain. Both pickups were fitted with 5.0-liter V-8 engines, each producing an impressive 349 horsepower at 4,500 rpm and 413 pound-feet of torque at 4,100 rpm. These powerful engines mate to a Sadev six-speed sequential transmission that links to a four-wheel-drive setup.
More than just its performance capabilities, the Ranger Dakar Rally pickup racers were also given the full race-spec treatment, complete with modified front and rear suspension, anti-roll bars on both sides of the pickup, and a set of 16-inch Evocorse wheels wrapped in race-spec Michelin tires.
With a grueling race like Dakar, fuel efficiency is very important in ensuring that the racers last the whole 13-day run. Fortunately, these Rangers are more than capable of that task, thanks to a fuel consumption rating that runs between 28 liters/100 km (8.4 mpg) and 90 liters/100 km (2.6 mpg), when driving in sandy racing conditions.
The race begins on January 5, 2014 and runs until the 18th of the same month. It’s still a little ways down the road, but it’s exciting knowing that participating teams are already gearing up for the event in their own way.
Click past the jump to read about the Ford Ranger