Ford Ranger rally raid racer gets EcoBoost 3.5L V6 power

Switching from a 5.0L V8 means it also moves up a class

While the Ford Ranger Raptor is currently the most badass factory Ranger for street use (though sadly not in the U.S.), a South African outfit called Neil Woolridge Motorsports (NWM) has building even more amazing rally raid Rangers under authorization from Ford. These are built for Dakar-style cross country racing and have been using a version of the 5.0-liter Coyote V8. But this year, they're switching to EcoBoost power.

The new NWM Rangers will get a version of the twin-turbocharged 3.5-liter V6 shared with the Ford F-150 Raptor and Ford GT. Power figures haven't been announced, but for reference, the V8 NWM has been using made 349 horsepower and 413 pound-feet of torque. It also only revs to 6,000 rpm, unlike the higher revving unit in the Mustang GT. Those specs are for the truck that competes in Class T cross country racing in South Africa and Brazil, which is a slower class than the FIA class the V6 truck will compete in. Ford says it has confirmed with the FIA that this will be the first turbocharged V6 entered in this class. Other trucks such as the Toyota Hilux and Nissan Navara currently use V8s, with the former using a 5.0-liter, and the latter available with either a 5.0-liter or 5.6-liter engine. The Ranger's engine, just as with its competitors, is not under the hood, either. It's mounted in the middle, and Ford says it sits a little farther back than the V8 for weight distribution purposes.

The truck has undergone a number of other changes from its predecessor. The chassis and body have been widened, which provides more space for driver and co-driver and room for maintenance. It switches from a live rear axle to independent like the front, and there's 7 inches of travel at each end. The transmission and differentials are lighter, and the truck comes with a 127-gallon fuel cell. Braking is serious with six-piston calipers front and rear. The front units are air cooled while the rears are water-cooled.

NWM will begin campaigning the V6 FIA-class Rangers later this year. Until it's fully ready, the company will be running modified V8 models. The company will also continue to provide support to privateer teams running Class T Rangers.

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