Dakar Ranger tested at Walvis
Earlier in September, Team Ford Racing is preparation for the 2014 Dakar Rally in South America, brought its muscular Ford Ranger V8 for an extensive nine-day test session in the desert near Walvis Bay.
The full-scale test encompassed a complete shake-down and set-up of the 5,0-litre V8 Ford Ranger, and featured almost the entire local and international Ford Racing crew including team management, drivers and navigators, race engineers and mechanics.
“This is the first time the Dakar Rally Ranger has really been tested,” said Neil Woolridge, team manager. The test was conducted approximately 30 km from Walvis Bay and was based at the Lauberville Camp, a concession area run by West Coast 4×4.
“We chose this area near Walvis Bay as it has a bit everything and replicates a lot of the conditions we will encounter on the Dakar,” Woolridge explained. “There’s a huge dry river bed with soft sand and lots of undulations that really gives the suspension a good workout. The area is also famous for its dune driving, plus there are vast open rocky plains that allowed us to test the high-speed performance of the Ranger.”
Argentinian lead driver Lucio Alvarez, who has completed three Dakars with two top 10 finishes, agreed that the area is ideal for the Ranger’s first full test. “The location was very good for training and testing because you have all the different types of terrain experienced on Dakar.
“It matches a lot of the Dakar stages we’ve done through Argentina, Peru and Chile over the past three years, which makes it the perfect place to test the vehicle in the right conditions,” he said.
The Ranger uses an advanced Magneti Marelli engine management system, and a specialist engine technician from Oreca Motorsport’s Engine Technology division in France was also on hand to optimise the engine mapping for the mighty V8 to maximise its performance.
“We also set out to do as much mileage on this brand new car as possible,” Woolridge said “Although it’s similar to the SA-spec Ranger, the FIA-specification for the Dakar allows us to use a totally different independent rear suspension compared to the live rear axle used in local racing.”