What does the Ford GT, a bespoke race car for the road have in common with the upcoming FIA-class Ranger competing in the South African Cross Country championship? The 3.5-litre twin-turbocharged V6 EcoBoost engine.
Yes, Neil Woolridge and his motorsport team have built an all-new Ranger and in a world-first for cross country racing it is powered by the EcoBoost V6 engine.
Out goes the brawny 5.0-litre V8 engine sourced from the Mustang that has powered the team to consecutive wins in the Class T championship in 2018 and 2019.
Woolridge announced that the new Maritzburg-built vehicle would compete in the FIA-class category, facing off against those 'red cars' as Woolbridge told media in Port Elizabeth earlier in February.
"As the new regulations were still being finalised at the beginning of this year, we will only debut our first all-new EcoBoost-powered Ranger at the second or third race of the 2020 SACCS season," Woolridge explains. "We are planning to have a full line-up with three new vehicles ready by mid-year, in time for the Botswana Desert Race at the end of June."
Gareth Woolridge will be responsible for the testing and development of the new FIA-class Ranger on its first competitive outings. At the same time, the other two vehicles are being built at NWM’s Pietermaritzburg facility.
The EcoBoost engine is famous for powering the GT that won the Le Mans 24 Hour race in 2016 in the GTE Pro class.
In comparison to the V8, the forced induction engine is mounted further back for better weight distribution. A 480-litre fuel tank built by UK-based Aerotec Laboratories constructed specially for the Ranger has been used. It'll come in handy during long cross-country events.
The SADEV SC924 Evo gearbox is 10kg lighter than the current example being used. The move to the FIA-class has brought changes to the vehicle's brakes, which are air-cooled Brembo six-piston calipers up front and water-cooled six-pot ones at the rear.
The Ford will wear Dakar Rally-winning tyres in the form of BF Goodrich's KDR2+. The season gets underway this weekend (28-29 February) in Dullstroom, Mpumalanga for the Mpumalanga 400 event.
Compiled by Sean Parker.
All images: Quickpic