Lucio Alvarez and Ronnie Graue finished the Ford Ranger’s Dakar Rally debut in 22nd position after safely completing the short final speed test in Chile.
The Argentine duo celebrated with their entire Team Ford Racing squad in Valparaiso tonight after completing the world’s toughest motorsport event, covering 14 days and more than 9 300 km (including over 5 200 km of special stages) through Argentina and Chile.
They completed the final 535 km stage, of which 157 km were competitive on dirt roads, in 11th place. They posted a string of top 10 stage times to battle back up the order after small but time consuming problems early in the event dropped them to 129th, ultimately proving that the Ford had the pace to be competitive.
More than half the 147 starters failed to complete this year’s gruelling Dakar Rally, which journeyed north through Argentina before crossing the Andes mountains and heading south along Chile’s coast.
Temperatures of 45°C combined with rock-strewn dirt tracks, heavily rutted dry river beds and soft power-sapping sand dunes placed huge strains on man and machine. But Alvarez’s Ranger proved its strength and reliability by completing the route with nothing more than minor issues.
The car was prepared and run by South Africa’s Neil Woolridge Motorsport while the complex logistics operation was handled by Germany’s South Racing.
Team-mates Chris Visser and Japie Badenhorst retired their similar Ranger in the second stage after a heavy roll.