Following months of teasers and anticipation, the Ford Mustang Dark Horse R was revealed last night as the latest track-ready pony car following the debut of the GT3 and GT4 racers. A more hardcore version of the also-new Dark Horse S, the Dark Horse R is powered by the naturally-aspirated Ford 5.0L V8 Coyote engine, which produces 500 horsepower and 418 pound-feet of torque and is mated to a six-speed manual transmission. Otherwise, however, the Dark Horse R is equipped with all of the requisite safety gear, beefed up cooling and oiling systems, brakes, and suspension upgrades needed for track duty – making it perfect for the just-announced Mustang Challenge, which is a new one-make series specifically designed for the pony car.
The Mustang Challenge series – set to kick off in 2024 – will consist of a 10- to 12-race stint that will operate in conjunction with five to six yet-to-be-announced North American sports car race weekends. Each round of the IMSA-sanctioned series – managed by the Ford Performance Racing School – consists of two practice sessions, one qualifying session, and two sprint races. The top finishers in each race will receive contingency payouts, while an overall series champion will be crowned at the conclusion of the season.
To even the playing field, all cars competing in the Mustang Challenge will be equipped with the same racing slicks, which were developed specifically for the series by the folks at Michelin. Pricing for the Dark Horse R starts out at $145,000, and deliveries will begin in preparation for the start of the Mustang Challenge season in 2024.
“The new Mustang Challenge series is a perfect addition to our IMSA family and we are grateful to our longtime partners at Ford for trusting us to be the sanctioning body for this spectacular new platform,” said IMSA President John Doonan. “When I was a little boy going to the race track, I vividly remember the rumble of the Mustang race cars and their V8 power, so imagining a full field of Dark Horse Rs charging into Turn 1 for the first time on an IMSA race weekend will bring back a flood of memories and be awe inspiring.”