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JOHANNESBURG, South Africa — Team Ford Racing announced its 2013 motorsport plans with the new Ford Ranger and new Ford Focus ST racing cars unveiled for the first time. Team Ford Racing also confirmed the expansion of its involvement in local motorsport, declaring that Ford will offer a multi-million Rand driver reward programme to all Ford-driven vehicles participating in the South African National Rally Championship.
“Ford is the only manufacturer involved in the all of the top three national championship motorsport categories in South Africa,” says John Nagel, Ford Racing Manager. “Globally Ford has a rich motorsport heritage and locally we have a longstanding relationship with all three categories. We are looking forward to an exciting season with two completely new vehicles and the introduction of a new rally initiative.”
SA Donaldson Cross Country Championship
Team Ford Racing will be looking to mount a strong challenge in this year’s SA Donaldson Cross Country Championship with the new Ford Ranger making its global cross country debut in the Off Road series.
The team will boast a pair of Ford Rangers with Chris Visser and Japie Badenhorst and Lance Woolridge and Ward Huxtable once again competing in Class SP. They will be supported by a dedicated team of 14 full time staff in their quest for top honours in the championship battle.
The newly-designed Rangers were built in Pietermaritzburg with assistance from Ford Motor Company’s Global Product Development division. Every aspect of the new Ranger has been carefully considered and built with precision and performance in mind.
“A complex jigging system was used in the manufacturing process in order to ensure that each part was built as per the design in order to achieve the perfect fit on each vehicle built,” said Nagel. “Although the two new Rangers are locally built, we received tremendous support from our global counterparts including the likes of Jamal Hameedi, the Chief Engineer of Ford’s SVT division.”
Under the hood, the new Ranger boasts an impressive 5.0-litre V8 engine with variable cam timing, managed by the Magneti Marelli system. In addition to its light weight body and a chassis design that allows for a low centre of gravity, the vehicle is equipped with an independent front suspension and a solid rear axle, eight state of the art BOS dampers and front and rear anti-roll bars. Add Brembo brakes, an air-conditioned cabin, advanced onboard computer system and it is clear to see that the new Ranger has been designed with winning in mind.
The Ranger is assembled at Ford’s Silverton Assembly Plant north of Pretoria following a multi-billion rand investment by Ford Motor Company in the country’ facilities.
“We are extremely excited to see the Ranger in action. Both the road-going and race-ready versions of the Ranger are locally built, demonstrating the depth of skill and expertise we have in South Africa,” said Nagel.
Bridgestone Production Car Championship
Team Ford Racing will once again participate in the Bridgestone Production Car Championship, however this year the team will enter a new car with the all-new Ford Focus ST making its circuit racing debut later this month.
The Focus ST is powered by a 184kW version of Ford’s 2.0-litre EcoBoost engine that delivers the power of a larger displacement unit with the fuel efficiency of a smaller engine. It achieves this through a combination of high pressure direct injection, low-inertia turbocharging, and Twin-independent Variable Cam Timing (Ti-VCT), as well as redesigned intake and exhaust systems, and unique calibration.
Nagel is upbeat about the season ahead: “Ford’s EcoBoost technology is winning critical acclaim around the globe and we are excited to be able to demonstrate its benefits on circuit.”
The two race-prepared Focus STs will for the first time sport the vehicles standard ABS system, which supersedes any aftermarket options available, while the team will use Penske suspension and a Cosworth developed engine management system. Performance will be equalised by a 36mm air intake restrictor with boost levels capped at 0.7 bar and weight set at 1300kgs.
Long-time Ford driver’s Gary Formato and Shaun Duminy will continue to pilot the vehicles in the series’ Class T category.
South African National Rally Championship
In addition to the two new vehicles making their racing debut this season, Team Ford Racing is excited to introduce its new National Rally Championship programme.
Reigning South African National Rally Champions Mark Cronje and Robin Houghton will once again pilot their S2000 Ford Fiesta, this year with support from Ford’s Dealer Network while Ford South Africa has created a driver rewards programme that will be open to all Ford drivers in 2013. There will be incentives for the top finishing Ford driver on the podium as well as the top finishing Ford driver in the overall championship.
“Ford is a popular choice of vehicle in the National Rally Championship with many top teams including the 2012 championship winners Mark Cronje and Robin Houghton choosing Ford’s MSport developed S2000s,” explained Nagel. “We wanted to demonstrate our support to these teams and have thus developed the rewards programme.”
Further to this, Ford will support the S1600 teams with competitive parts pricing on all Ford Genuine Parts. Privateers, Ashley Haig-Smith and Craig Parry, the 2012 Class winners in their Ford Fiesta, are key players in this class.
“It is going to be a landmark year for us as we introduce two brand new vehicles into the country’s top motorsport categories and launch our new national rally programme,” said Jeff Nemeth, president and CEO, Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa. “Watching the Ranger in action for the first time will be a particularly proud moment for everyone at Ford’s Struandale and Silverton operations. South Africa is one of only three markets around the globe that produces the Ranger for export. It is therefore fitting that it will make its competitive racing debut here in South Africa.”
Team Ford Racing’s efforts would not be possible without the support of its dedicated sponsors: Ford Dealer Network, Castrol, Time Freight, 888 Performance, Leda Panel Beaters, Dynotherm, Motorvia and Sign Solutions.
The Ford Focus ST racing car.