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JUN 3, 2024 | Ford Motor Company

The Champs are back: Ford Ranger Raptor returns to Tatts Finke Desert Race to defend title

Finke Ford Ranger Raptor

MELBOURNE, Australia - Ford Performance will return to Alice Springs next month to defend its class title at the 2024 Tatts Finke Desert Race.

Off-road racing hall of famer Brad Lovell will return to drive the same Ranger Raptor that won its class in both the 2023 Finke Desert Race and 2022 SCORE-International Baja 1000 alongside his son and co-driver Byam Lovell.

While it is the same combination that won the Production 4WD class in the 2023 running with an overall time of 5 hours, 56 minutes and 30 seconds (including a class record-breaking run from Apatula to Alice Springs of 2 hours, 51 minutes and 18 seconds), the Ford Performance team in Australia has made a number of key upgrades to the race truck for the 2024 event.

“The Ranger Raptor is Ford Performance’s global off-road racing platform, and we are proud to return to the vehicle’s spiritual homeland of the Aussie Outback to defend our 2023 victory,” says Mark Rushbrook, Global Director, Ford Performance Motorsports.

“While the team has been hard at work improving the Ranger Raptor for the 2024 event, our race truck still retains the same engine, transmission, and suspension components that roll off the showroom floor.”

Ford Performance Tatts Finke Ranger Raptor Side 

While last year was the Lovell’s first time racing at Finke, they return in 2024 with a year of experience under their belts, and a hunger to retain their class title.

“The Finke Desert Race is truly unique, with a challenging combination of high speeds and seriously massive whoops,” he says. “I’m looking forward to facing off against a stronger field of competitors this year and showing what the Ranger Raptor is capable of.”

Vehicle servicing, event management and logistical support will once again be provided to Ford Performance by Walkinshaw Performance, sister organisation of leading Ford Supercars team Walkinshaw Andretti United, with engineering support from US-based off-road specialists Huseman Engineering.

In 2023 the Ranger Raptor raced at Finke in a similar specification to Baja, while the changes made for this year’s event are focused on improving performance at the higher speed Australian event, by reducing weight and optimising suspension calibrations.

The Ranger Raptor race truck retains the same suspension hardware and electronics as the standard road-going vehicle, but with a new Finke-specific damper calibration.

“We have an exciting challenge ahead of us for Finke in 2024. Last year we came close to securing the overall class record and this year we return against a strong set of new competitors,” said Justin Capicchiano, Ford Performance and Special Vehicles Engineering Manager, Australia.

“Finke has an average speed nearly 35km/h faster than Baja, and by retuning the suspension and cutting weight, the Ranger Raptor will be the perfect weapon for Brad and Byam to defend their title.”

The Finke Desert Race is Australia’s toughest off-road endurance race, covering a total distance of over 460 kilometres between Alice Springs and Aputula (Finke), running across the weekend of June 7-10.