Late last night, we received a phone call from Buenos Aires, Argentina. Sue Mead, Darren Skilton and the team behind the FabSchool/General Tire Ford F-150 SVT Raptor piloted their truck to a first-place finish in the OP/2 racing class for autos (including light-duty trucks) competing in the 2011 Dakar Rally.
"The Dakar was brutal," said Mead. "[About] two-thirds [of the racers who started] didn't finish. We did. Darren and I will take home the OP/2 trophy. There were six racing in our class, including Robby Gordon and other folks from the U.S. We were the only one of the six that finished."
Mead, a freelance writer for PickupTrucks.com, is the first woman driver from either North or South America to compete in Dakar's auto class, though several women raced motorcycles. The Dakar was held Jan. 1-16 over a 5,903-mile circuit from Buenos Aires to the Atacama Desert in Chile.
Modifications to the FabSchool/General Tire Raptor (Truck No. 374) to prepare it for Dakar included an ARB locker, King Shocks at each corner and wheels from Walker Evans Racing. Inside, there are Cobra seats with Crow harnesses. Under the hood, the 5.4-liter V-8 Raptor is mostly in factory form except for a pair of Odyssey batteries and Royal Purple Racing oil.
Mead and Skilton worked the FabSchool Raptor from 126th place after the first stage to 40th place overall during the 15-day rally. Congrats!