Forget about the not-going-to-happen Raptor V8, Neil Woolridge Motorsport in South Africa has designed and built a Ford Ranger using the V6 EcoBoost engine.
Okay, don’t expect to see this thing at your local Ford dealership anytime soon, but this Neil Woolridge Motorsport (NWM) Ford Ranger (Ford Castrol Cross Country Team) runs a 3.5-litre twin-turbocharged V6 EcoBoost engine. There’s no word on output but this is the same engine that runs in the F-150 Raptor.
NWM is well-known in South Africa and has dominated cross country racing for the last two years, but the vehicle you’re looking at here will see it step up to the premier class in the Production Vehicle category of the South African Cross Country Series (SACCS) for 2020. “Having enjoyed great success in Class T over the last two years, it’s time for us to take on a new challenge in the FIA-class which has grown rapidly to become the most popular and competitive field in the South African championship, and in international cross country racing,” said Neil Woolridge, team principal of NWM. “This has given us the opportunity to design and develop an all-new Ranger to compete with the best in the world.”
“The introduction of turbo petrol engines by the FIA represents an exciting new era for the sport, and for Ford and NWM to be at the forefront of this development is a great accolade,” Woolridge adds. “We are proud to be pioneering the development of this technology and setting an entirely new benchmark for the global cross country racing fraternity to follow. It also reinforces the great relationship between Ford and NWM spanning 23 years, and reaffirms South Africa as a leader in designing and manufacturing world-class cross country racing vehicles.”
Because rules were only changed late last year, Woolridge claims the new Ranger won’t appear on the start line until probably the second or third race of the season. So, what’s different? Er, almost everything.
Compared to a regular Ranger, the compact V6 engine will be located further back in the chassis in a mid-mounted position to improve balance. It uses a twin air filter and dual intercooler design that is compact and mounted close to the engine for maximum efficiency, and relies on MOTEC electronic management for the electronics and fuelling. A purpose-built fuel cell produced by Aerotec Laboratories in the UK is capable of carrying up to 480 litres.
Power is transmitted to all four wheels via the latest-generation SADEV SC924 Evo gearbox which is more compact and 10kg lighter than the current unit. Lighter front and rear differentials are matched to symmetrical driveshafts and propshafts that reduce the complexity and time required to replace units during the race or at the scheduled service stops. SADEV also supplies the steering rack developed for the rigours of off-road racing.
The all-new cross country Ranger looks more muscular thanks to its redesigned bodywork which is more aerodynamic and wider than the outgoing model. An entirely new chassis design allowed for a larger cockpit and improved space and ergonomics for the driver and co-driver, and is optimised to make the vehicle easier to work on for the team’s technicians. Under the skin, the new wider chassis employs the latest damper technology from BOS Suspension, with dual high-performance BOS dampers on all four corners delivering a claimed 280mm of wheel travel for the fully independent front and rear suspension – the latter replacing the solid rear axle configuration used in Class T. Braking performance is even more critical in the faster FIA-class, so the new Ranger boasts top-spec air-cooled Brembo six-piston callipers up front and water-cooled six-pot callipers at the rear. The move to the premier class will also see the team relying on Dakar Rally-winning BF Goodrich KDR2+ tyres that are used by the top teams in cross country racing around the world.
QUESTION: Would you prefer to see a V6 EcoBoost Ranger or a V8 Ranger?