Ford makes no secret of the fact that the Ranger Raptor ute was inspired by the world of Baja off-road racing.
Now the version of Art Raptormodified for Kelly Racing in Melbourne and Lovell Racing in the USA, will take part in the Baja 1000 Desert Race on the Baja California Peninsula in Mexico from November 15-20, 2022.
It will run on a “low-carbon” biofuel developed by Shell, which is a mixture of ethanol and a product derived from vegetable oils and other organic waste, called bio-oil.
Given that it will compete in the standard 1000 class, changes to the Raptor relative to what you can buy at your local Ford dealer are limited to a three-inch lift, two-inch wider arches and minor engine upgrades.
External changes are limited to the kickstand and LED lighting panel, as well as a stiffer front fascia. The wheels are Method Racing units and the right side of the body is now home to the tube.
At the bottom in the back on the tray is another LED panel with spare wheels. With rocks, ruts and even landmines in the desert, it’s not uncommon for the competition to change wheels in the middle of stages, so having plenty of spares up your sleeve is essential.
Under the hood, the Baja Raptor appears to be riding on stock Fox Racing suspension.
At launch, Ford said the Raptor’s frame was so heavily reinforced compared to the regular car (and its predecessor) that it was almost a unique platform.
Along with owners pushing hard on the back roads and casual gamers looking to hop on their car, it’s clear some of that reinforcement has gone into preparing the Raptor for the desert.
The suspension consists of aluminum upper and lower control arms, long-travel front and rear springs, and coilovers equipped with Watt’s advanced linkage system.
There are also 2.5-inch Fox Live Valve position-sensitive dampers linked to drive modes. Dubbed “the most advanced in a Ranger Raptor,” these shocks are filled with Teflon oil to reduce friction by 50 percent.
They provide maximum damping force in the last 25 percent of shock travel to protect against severe shocks such as landing. Ford adds that the system can also stiffen the rear shocks to keep the Raptor from squatting under hard acceleration.
Power for the road-going Raptor comes from a twin-turbocharged 3.0-litre V6 with 292kW and 583Nm sent to all four wheels via a permanent all-wheel drive system.
We’d wager that drivers will be running in Baja mode, which activates the engine’s anti-lag system, increases the weight of the steering, weakens the electronic driver aids and lets the exhaust sing at the top of its lungs.
Ford has form with its production cars at the Baja 1000; The F-150 Raptor and Bronco ran and finished the race early.