Finke Desert Race 2024: Ford Ranger Raptor goes back-to-back in the Aussie Outback, winning production 4WD class

Finke Desert Race 2024: Ford Ranger Raptor goes back-to-back in the Aussie Outback, winning production 4WD class

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Ford Performance has secured its second victory in a row at the gruelling Finke Desert Race with the Ford Ranger Raptor securing the Production 4WD class win with a final time of five hours, fifty-eight minutes, and twenty-three seconds (5:58:23).
Driven by Brad Lovell, and navigated by Byam Lovell, the #773 Ranger Raptor was the only vehicle in its class to finish both legs of the 2024 event which pushed man and machine to the limit in out Outback test of performance and endurance.

“Winning the Finke Desert Race in the Production 4WD class two years in a row shows just how good the road-going Ranger Raptor is,” says Mark Rushbrook, Global Director, Ford Performance Motorsports. “It was designed and engineered in Australia to take on the most extreme challenges, and Finke pushed the car to its absolute limits. The entire team showed incredible grit and determination to bounce back and secure a strong result.”

The back-to-back victory comes after a multi-day back-and-forth battle for the Production 4WD crown. During the run from Alice Springs to Aputula (Finke) the Ranger Raptor set a scorching early pace, overtaking its key rival 55 kilometres into the race after starting three minutes behind the first starter in class.

However, the 2024 Finke Desert Race wasn’t without its challenges, with the Ranger Raptor facing mechanical issues while pushing hard out on the course. Brad and Byam drove the final 130km of the track on day one with broken left-rear suspension, yet still managed to finish the first leg of the event five minutes faster than 2023 with a time of three hours and 35 seconds (3:00:35), and only losing four minutes to the class leader. This was the first failure of its kind that the Ford Australia Ranger Raptor engineers have experienced – a testament to the extreme conditions thrown up by this year’s Finke race and to the capability of the Ranger Raptor.

On the return leg, the #773 Ranger had halved the gap to the leading car before its ultimate retirement, with the Ford subsequently cruising from Aputula to Finke in a time of two hours, fifty-seven minutes, and forty-eight seconds (2:57:48).

“Finke threw everything it had at us, but we held on, conquered the desert and came away with the win,” says Brad Lovell, driver of the #773 Ford Ranger Raptor.

“The run to Finke from Alice springs was extremely testing, but we knew early on we had the pace required to win if we played our cards right. Starting the second day the pressure was on, and we had a job to do chasing down the Chevy guys. We made great pace as soon as we started, with the Ranger Raptor running flawlessly.

“Craig and the Chevy guys really kept us on our toes all weekend. It was fantastic to have some strong competition out there, and I hope that more people join the fun in the coming years.”

With rain in the lead-up to this year’s event, the 2024 Finke Desert Race had harsher terrain than what the Ranger Raptor faced in 2023 – with heavily cut up ruts and the iconic whoops testing the production-based racer’s stock engine, transmission, and suspension harder.

Some of the same Ford Australia engineers that helped develop and design the Ranger Raptor were part of the 2024 race team, and will return home with data, information and lessons that will help make future Ford products better, faster, and stronger.

“I couldn’t be prouder of the team. We had the best people possible with us at Finke, with the powertrain, suspension, and steering engineers for the Ranger Raptor part of the crew. Along with the mechanics from Walkinshaw Performance we were able to bounce back from a challenging run on the first day to secure back-to-back victory,” said Justin Capicchiano, Ford Performance and Special Vehicles Engineering Manager, Australia.

“At Ford we go racing to learn. To improve. And this year Finke pushed our team to the limit at every level. There’s no harder off-road race in Australia, and the Raptor proved that it takes a seriously a seriously impressive base vehicle to make it to Finke and back at race pace. Some of the whoops were bigger than the car itself!

“Lessons learned from this race will feed directly into development of future high-performance off-road products that customers will be able to drive straight off the showroom floor.”

Vehicle servicing, event management and logistical support was once again provided to Ford Performance by Walkinshaw Performance, sister organisation of leading Ford Supercars team Walkinshaw Andretti United, with engineering support from US-based off-road specialists Huseman Engineering.

Source: Ford Performance

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