The Ford Castrol Cross Country Team is entering an exciting new era in cross country racing with the debut of the all-new, purpose-designed and built FIA class Ranger produced by Neil Woolridge Motorsport (NWM). Set to compete in the premier Production Vehicle category of the South African Cross Country Series (SACCS), the highly-anticipated new Ford Ranger will be the first vehicle in its class competing locally under the FIA’s new international cross country regulations for turbocharged gasoline engines.
NVM began designing the new FIA Class Ranger from the ground up two years ago and started testing a prototype in 2020. It was scheduled to begin racing last year, but COVID-19 ruined those plans, and the pickup’s debut was delayed to 2021.
The new FIA Class Ranger is powered by Ford’s 3.5L EcoBoost V6, the same powerplant found in the Ford GT and Ford F-150 Raptor. The clean-sheet design replaces the current FIA Ranger, which is equipped with Ford’s 5.0L Coyote V8. That model scored a debut victory in 2013 and clinched the SACCS Class T titles in 2018 and 2019, along with numerous race wins and championships around the globe.
In this application, the EcoBoost engine has been optimized to meet strict FIA regulations for the class that allow a maximum power output of 300kW (402 horsepower). The twin-turbo V6 boasts more torque than the outgoing V8, cranking out around 600Nm (443 pound-feet) in race trim.
The new Ranger racer features exposed carbon fiber bodywork, integrated BOS hydraulic jacks, a wider chassis, twin BOS dampers on all four corners, and a fully independent suspension. The EcoBoost is mated to a compact new SADEV six-speed sequential gearbox, while the entire drivetrain has been redesigned to be lighter and easier to work on with symmetrical driveshafts on both axles to reduce complexity, facilitate faster replacement, and reduce the number of spare parts.
The Ford Castrol NWM team will consist of the same driver and co-driver line-up the team featured last year. Lance Woolridge, the 2018 and 2019 Class T champion, is paired up with multiple rally co-drivers champion Elvéne Vonk for the second season in a row. The duo is hoping to build on the impressive podium finish they achieved at the Dullstroom season-opener last year. They’ll be joined by relative newcomers Gareth Woolridge and Boyd Dreyer.