Over the weekend, the new Ford Bronco (as the Ford Bronco R prototype race truck) took its first stab at the pinnacle of North American desert racing, the Baja 1000. It was a triumphant launch ahead of the return of the production Bronco, but the race didn’t end as triumphantly as it started. The Bronco R DNF’d after issue upon issue.
The No. 2069 Bronco R prototype is listed with driver Cameron Steele as having finished almost at the bottom of its results classification, as one of the many vehicles with a “DNF” marking for “did not finish” next to its placement. The cause for the DNF isn’t listed, but Ford communications manager Mike Levine sent a statement to Jalopnik about what happened, saying the race is “one of the most grueling” in the world and that’s why Ford took the truck there.
Levine summarized the issues the Bronco R prototype had as such:
We had several challenges during the race, including:
· Getting hit and becoming stuck after a trophy truck hit the Raptor in San Quetin Wash near race mile 190. That’s desert racing!
· This damaged a skid plate that also led to damaging the transmission cooling lines. We fixed the skid plate at Pit 2 but didn’t catch the transmission leak until after it started slipping. It made it to Pit 3. This took several hours to repair.
· Around race mile 480 we broke a fabricated lower control arm. This was replaced but took another 90 minutes or so.
· Ran into aftermarket cooling fan issues around race mile 580. By the time it was repaired at Pit 5 it was about 8:30 at night. The next portion was challenging and risky to get help on the course if something happened, and we’d likely wouldn’t finish until after the official time limit expired.
But the pre-production parts tested on the Bronco R prototype, Levine said, “performed flawlessly. No engine or chassis issues.”
Levine also tweeted about the result, saying it was disappointing not to finish the race but that Ford will continue to “test and further improve the Bronco R prototype” before coming back next year.
Ford unveiled the Bronco R race prototype that would continue its Baja history earlier in November, without sharing many details of the truck or what would carry over into the production car. But, as we wrote at the time, Ford said Baja would be a test of several components of the road-going Bronco, including an unspecified drivetrain.
A release from Ford said the truck aimed “to prove out the upcoming production Bronco’s powertrain and architecture.” At least we know it got tested!
This story has been updated to clarify that the official statement from Ford is separate from Levine’s summary of the problems the Bronco R had in the race.