Ford has confirmed it will enter the 2014 Dakar Rally through a collaborative effort spearheaded by its South African division. The marque will enter two purpose-built Rangers, to be driven by Lucio Alvarez and Chris Visser.
Argentinean Alvarez came close to winning the opening stage of this year's rally and finished 10th overall for the Overdrive Toyota team, despite at one point dropping to 27th with mechanical issues. Visser, the 2011 South African cross-country champion, will meanwhile be making his Dakar debut.
"We are extremely proud to be sending these South African-built Rangers to the 2014 Dakar," Jeff Nemeth, president and CEO of Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa, said. "Dakar is the ultimate test of man and machine and we are thrilled to have the opportunity to participate with a phenomenal team comprised of local and global expertise."
The two Rangers will be prepared by Pietermaritzburg-based Neil Woolridge Motorsport (NVM), with assistance from Ford's global product development group.
One Ranger is already ready and will begin testing in August, while the second is set to be completed before the end of October.
The 2014 Dakar Rally will run from Jan. 5-18, and will take in Bolivia for the first time.