PRETORIA, South Africa – Team Ford Racing makes its official Dakar Rally debut with two South African-built Rangers in the gruelling 2014 event, taking place from 5-18 January in South America.
The design team responsible for bringing Ford’s Dakar contender to fruition includes a mix of South African and global minds. The purpose-built Rangers are prepared by Pietermaritzburg-based Neil Woolridge Motorsport, while logistics is handled by German-based South Racing. Similarly the driver line-up is made up of both international and local contenders including South American native Lucio Alvarez and South African Chris Visser.
“We are extremely proud to be sending these South African-built Rangers to the 2014 Dakar,” says Jeff Nemeth President and CEO of Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa. “Dakar is the ultimate test of man and machine and we are thrilled to have the opportunity to participate with a phenomenal team comprised of local and global expertise.”
Over 1-billion TV viewers from across the globe tuned in to watch the 2013 Dakar, with 4.6 million spectators making their way to South America to witness the feat.
The Dakar is a truly international showcase of off-road vehicles,” says Dave Schoch, Group Vice President and President, Ford Motor Company Asia Pacific. “We are pleased to have put together a global team that has exceptional knowledge of the event as well as being capable of performing extremely well racing the Ford Ranger.”
The newly-designed Rangers were built in Pietermaritzburg with assistance from Ford’s Global Product Development group.
“A complex jigging system was used in the manufacturing process in order to ensure that each part is built as per the design in order to achieve the perfect fit on every vehicle built,” explains Neil Woolridge, Team Manager and head of Neil Woolridge Motorsport (NWM). “Although the two new Rangers are locally built we received tremendous support from our global counterparts including the likes of Ford’s SVT division.”
The technical aspects of the project have been managed from the NWM workshops in Pietermaritzburg. The Dakar effort is supported by a dedicated team of 27 people from 10 nationalities in their quest for the top honours in the Dakar battle.
The logistics and European operations are managed by South Racing GmbH, based near Frankfurt, Germany. South Racing is owned and managed by Scott Abraham whose family has a long history in South African motorsport. His father Arthur was a stalwart of South African motorsport for several decades.
Abraham has been based in Europe for the past ten years during which time he has worked as team manager for X-raid BMW/MINI and Overdrive Toyota. He was integral to the launch of the Toyota Dakar project and thus has a wealth of relevant knowledge and experience.
South Racing supplies the team logistic structure including the MAN 6X6 Service Trucks, MAN T4 Race Truck and service equipment. In addition to the vehicles and equipment South Racing manages all logistic and administration requirements for the team including the relationship with ASO.
“The combination of NWM and South Racing will ensure that the project has the necessary expertise and depth to be able to deliver the results,” explains Abraham.
The 2014 Dakar Rally will be the 35th running of the event and the sixth successive running in South America.
The 2014 Dakar Rally Route is sure to be as trying as ever. The event will start in Rosario, Argentina on January 5 and finish in Valparaiso, Chile on January 18 after thirteen stages of competition, which will comprise a total distance of over 9 300 kilometres.
The team’s progress and latest updates can also be followed on Facebook (www.facebook.com/FordAtDakar
), Twitter (@FordAtDakar) and via #FordAtDakar.