When it comes to modern international blue oval dirt performance motorsport, there are really only two names in the conversation. With M-Sport Ford has multiple decades of World Rally Championship competition, including 2017 and 2018 titles for Sébastien Ogier. Down in South Africa, Ford works with NWM Sport to build rally raid competition trucks, like the new Ford Ranger T1+.
In a new partnership between Ford, M-Sport, and NWM Sport, the Ranger will now be available as a factory-supported customer race truck. M-Sport will become the European headquarters for NWM trucks, clearing a path for customer support, which is a crucial first step toward an ambitious Dakar effort. M-Sport will collaborate with NWM on testing and development of the Ranger.
Dakar is still a long way off for the trio of racing brands. Both M-Sport and NWM are eager to get their truck on the world stage, but didn’t specify a timeframe for when that would be possible. For now it’s described as a “long term goal” by M-Sport boss Malcolm Wilson.
“It’s a momentous and exciting prospect for me, after almost 45 years in the rally business, rally raid and Dakar has always piqued my interest,” said Wilson. “It is a discipline that I do not underestimate though, and I am all too aware it requires years of experience and expertise. M-Sport and NWM have a shared vision, we feel that our respective outfits complement each other in a way that would create an unrivalled rally raid outfit. The NWM Ranger has definite potential, it is built on a very solid foundation, Matthew tested the car during our visit and was very positive about his experience.
“It’s fair to say I’m not one to stray away from a challenge, it’s what I love about motorsport and it’s no secret we have some work to do to contend for the prestigious Dakar Rally. That said, I am confident that M-Sport and NWM have the tools and know-how to push the Ford Ranger T1+ to new heights.”
Down in South Africa, NWM currently uses the Ranger to compete in the South African Cross Country Championship. It is currently locked in battle with Toyota Gazoo’s Hilux rally raid, and South Africa’s own Century Racing CR6, which is a wild 2WD buggy-like truck which uses a 7-liter GM engine and a SADEV sequential transmission. All of these vehicles sound like so much fun to drive. With proper factory support, and technological backing from M-Sport, NWM should be able to take the fight to the Toyota factory squad in South Africa, and elsewhere. Up to and including Dakar.