Sue Mead's Raptor Finishes First in Class at Dakar Rally

Sue Mead's Raptor Finishes First in Class at Dakar Rally

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, 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!

FabSchool Ford F-150 Raptor Finishes Dakar First in Class


Great news .

ford please give them the FORD RACING Raptor R with 500hp or at least the regular Raptor with the 6.2l 411hp engine for next time. you could send it to the BAJA 1,000 and then to the Dakar 5,903.
BAJA 50%+ drop out
Dakar 66%+ drop out

It would appear that the 5.4 was sufficient, and speaks to it's capability to be flogged forever. My heartfelt congratulations to Sue, Darren and their team!!!!! Awesome!

What a great story! Congratulations! THe 5.4L can still scrap!

Mike is that correct? According to the site Sue Mead DID NOT Finish.
Sue Mead was 40th for stage 12 but no results for stage 13???

Sue Mead is my hero!

With all the millions invested in this truck...It better of won !

@Soiled Urban Dweller. It appears the Raptor did not finish, it is not listed in the overall results at all. I can see no other mention of it on any other site.

Don't get your hopes up, Dodge boy. The link you gave was for cars and is not complete.

"Dakar Ford Raptor
It’s confirmed. America’s own Dakar Ford Raptor Team USA has pulled off the first American Class win in Dakar history. The team of Darren Skilton, Sue Mead, Troy Johnson and Dan Moore were dog-beat tired as Sue and Darren brought the Raptor over the finish line after more than 9500 kilometers in some of South America’s harshest environments. Tomorrow they will have an honored place on the Dakar podium. Congratulation
Team Raptor USA Finishes 2011 Dakar
By: Dakar Ford Raptor
Photos: 5"!/profile.php?id=100001907065450&sk=wall
After 14 days and all of the competition falling to the wayside, Sue and Darren caught the attention of the media in a big way as they pulled their basically stock Ford Raptor F-150 across the finish line of the world's toughest race.!/photo.php?fbid=118749131531988&set=a.118749044865330.19951.100001907065450&pid=129144&id=100001907065450!/album.php?aid=19951&id=100001907065450&fbid=118749044865330

@Tony still not listed at all in the race results and it has been some time now since the race finished. What was here overall standings?
Latest standings:

I just talked to Sue not more than 30 seconds ago in Argentina. They officially finished the race. We'll have podium shots in the next few hours.

@Mike what was her official finishing position overall? Not the class win as there are many classes running in the Dakar in the car class.

Final Top Ten for the Rally. Mark Miller a Baja winner and his South African navigator finished 6th in a VW Toureg.

1. Nasser Al-Attiyah/Timo Gottschalk (QAT/GER Volkswagen) 45h04m07

2. Giniel de Villiers/Dirk Von Zitzewitz (RSA/GER/Volkswagen) +49:41

3. Carlos Sainz/Lucas Cruz (ESP/Volkswagen) +1:20:38

4. Stephane Peterhansel/Jean-Paul Cottret (FRA/BMW) +1:43:48

5. Krzysztof Holowczyc/Jean-Marc Fortin (POL/BEL/BMW) +4:11:21

6. Mark Miller/Ralph Pitchford (USA/RSA/Volkswagen) +4:54:42

7. Ricardo Leal Dos Santos/Paulo Fiuza (POR/BMW) +6:50:07

8. Christian Lavieille/Jean-Michel Polato +7:57:18

9. Guilherme Spinelli/Youssef Haddad (BRA/Mitsubishi) +8:23:37

10. Matthias Kahle/Thomas Schuenemann (GER/SMG) +15:11:56

Sue Mead listed as second last car in 54th place at the last stage. Do not know if she beat the Toyota at the finish.
50 328 CHABOT (FRA), PILLOT (FRA) SMG 002:01:15 00:45:07 00:00:00
51 367 JUAN MANUEL PATO (ARG), Unknown MC RAE 002:05:08 00:49:00 00:00:00
52 451 VAGNINI (ARG), JEROMIN (ARG) NISSAN 002:06:24 00:50:16 00:00:00
53 347 CORONEL (NLD), Unknown MC RAE 002:07:29 00:51:21 00:00:00
54 374 MEAD (USA), SKILTON (USA) FORD 002:30:20 01:14:12 00:00:00
55 439 GANDARA (ARG), ALBERTO ALCIDES (ARG) TOYOTA 002:33:56 01:17:48 00:00:0


Great job Sue, Darren, and team!

Way to go Ford!!!

@Buy American but she actually finished 54th or 55th, 2nd or dead last in the cars category. The "First in Class" is a bit like a Childs Christmas Party..everyone gets a prize.

@Rober Ryan: When every other competitor in a class drops out, it's saying something that they even finished. I think you're short changing the FabSchool's accomplishment at Dakar.

Direct from Ford:
Ford Trucks Raptor Finishes Dakar! Yesterday, After 16 days and 9500 km Sue Mead and Darren Skilton finished 40th overall and WON the OP class making them the first American team to ever win a class in the Dakar Rally.
-Henry Platts SVT & Performance Communications

@ Robert Ryan

Do you need a hug buddy? You seem a little insecure about something?

@ililikemayo There is still no results for Sue and the Raptor on the official site, so I am at pains what gives.?Sue was listed as 40th on on the previous stage the 12th. On the official listing this
competitor is listed as 40th for the final rankings? Can anyone contact the the Dakar people to clear up the inconsistency?
10:45:13 13:28:57 22:00:00 and they still list 53 competitors finishing??

One last word on this inconsistency, Sue is not listed on the Motorsport. Com site for results of the car section of the Dakar. Something weird is going on.

So they finished 54th or whatever. Who cares where they finished overall when they were the only ones to finish in their class.

I get the impression they don't know what's going on down there. Maybe just a poorly run event.

Sue Mead shot JFK.

Congratulations to Sue Mead. Darren Skilton and the FabSchool/General Tire Team.
Finishing the Dakar in itself is an impressive feat.

@ Tom - Dakar is a huge event. You can't host an event like the Dakar for 31 years ( cancelled once due to Terrorist threats) and run it poorly.
Sounds more like problems with the web site.

Does anyone know what happened to Raptor # 375 raced by the Argentinean Team of O.javier Campillay Paez and Juan pablo Rodriguez Salazar ? The Dakar site lists it as an F150 but I read elsewhere that it was a Raptor.
These guys were privateers - as in race out of your own pocket.

I assume it didn't finish if Sue Meads Raptor was the only one left in its class.

@Lou they were into it untill stage 12 or early stage 13 and then dropped out.

Position 22 372 ZHOU (CHN)
07:21:17 10:05:01 05:00:00

great result for a "Great Wall". Here they come

For all our love of Full Size trucks, the top ten overrall standings paint a pretty clear picture of what is/are the fastest vehicles off-pavement.

Ain't pretty.

@ Allen - the Dakar is classified as a "Rally Raid" event. The vehicles do not need to be street legal to compete.
What about the "truck" class?
When they refer to trucks they are talking about Mann, and Iveco sized trucks.
Are you filling in for Oxi?
You also have to realize that the Dakar and other similar events have been going on in the world for over 30 years. Large pickups, SUV's, and cars are a North American phenomenon. North Americans are neophytes when it comes to this style of event.
Experience and investment into Dakar teams are probably more important than what you are running.
Here are the overall times of the top 3 finishers based on class:
#1 Car
Nasser Al-Attiyah 45:16:16
#1 Bike
Marc Coma 48:25:00
#1 Truck
Vladimir Tchaguine 48:28:54
The pro bike racers have been limited to 450cc. They used to be able to run 1000cc bikes.
A Russian Kamaz truck was within 3 hours and 12 minutes of the fastest car.
The fastest car was a Volkwagon Touareg diesel.
The diesel Touareg was achieving 3 times the fuel economy of a gasser.

As you mentioned the vehicles are broken up into four general categories : Bikes, Cars , Quads , Trucks.
Within the car category there is a multitude of classes for :stock, modified stock and the "funnycars" the outright VW's and Gordon's Hummer. some classes have few competitors and others quite a few
The Dakar Rally raid is the most lethal sport on the planet. Four people were killed in this years event. Pretty average for Dakar.

That link is for Read's results in the Raptor.

@mmciau I got a reply from, that said they are checking if Sue Mead had taken too much time to finish stage 12, that is why no Stage 13. Mike Levine she may have been disqualified from the event in that case. Robby Gordon had too wait 2 days to see if he was DQ.
Anyway if I get the full reply will post it here. All this explains the discrepancies.

The FabSchool - General Tire Ford Raptor Team USA takes the podium in Buenos Aires for a Class Win:!/photo.php?fbid=119028838170684&set=a.119028668170701.20109.100001907065450

@Mark, the email I received to day suggests from suggests the Team was DQ'd from the event as a result of taking too much time to complete stage 13. confirmation to come from that source when it comes. I have also emailled the ASO the organisers of the Rally and Ford.
Both websites on the Dakar Rally page have not been updated as of I write this.

@Robert Ryan

firstly, you are being far to militant about this, attacking this article on every site you can. The worst part is you are being militantly wrong. If you look at the car classes in the entry form, you will see where sue mead was in OP/2 (4x4, +2,8 t. and -2,2 m inside) with another f-150, robbie gordon's hummers, and 2 other vehicles.

Secondly, On sue mead's page right now, in the bottom right hand corner, under dakar record, it now says 40th place for 2011, strait from the horses mouth. She's not listed on the official rankings, but does have a scratch(pre-penalty) time for stage 13, which means she did, indeed, complete it.

@waitwait Yes she completed the Scratch part of Stage 13, listed as finishing 54th. On her personal page they list her finishing 40th for stage 12, but there is no entry for stage 13th. Although we know she finished 54th. In the overall rankings she is not listed at all as well as the fellow in the Toyota who finished 55th. Only 53 cars are listed as completing in the overall standings . She is not listed as winning a Class or even finishing the event. I waiting on information to clarify, but it seems DQ" was the only reason she was not listed as finishing the event. I know it is not palatable, but there you are.

This link does not list the Raptor anywhere...

I recall Oshkosh Truck racing in the Baja 1,000 where they said in their media reports that they finished the grueling race but officially they were a DNF due to not making it on time.

They still finished but not in the time allowed.

I think the Raptor fell into this likewise.

@Robert Ryan: Less than half of of the people on the final results page have a place listed for stage 13. The team listed as 40th on the overall results list has a time listed for stage 13, but is still listed as being in 41st place. Her scratch time is 2:30.20 which isn't the slowest time of the day, and is quicker than vehicles in other classes which are still listed in the results.

here is a picture of them on the podium with the awards for 1st in class off their facebook page, are you going to argue this too?

What does it even matter? why are you debating this? whether or not the official results reflect it, they were the last truck running in their class, and it is known for a fact that they crossed the finish line. Are you searching for some sort of technicality that you can use to jump up and say "hah, the raptor sucks, it couldn't even finish dakar"?

Because her alleged final placing appears to be incorrect and falsely lauded.

Regardless of whatever time Sue and team finished the race in...THEY DID FINISH THE RACE! End of debate!

Go team!
Go Ford!
Go F-150 S.V.T. Raptor!

Maybe I would finish Dakar in my Dodge Caravan next year then.

@zviera - funny, but Dakar is a "Rally Raid" event. I doubt your Caravan would survive 30 miles unless you loaded it into back of one of the Russian Kamaz trucks, even then it probably would break apart.
I owned one and the POS would of needed a trip to the shop just to cover the same distance on pavement !
Robert Ryan is just trying to state the facts.
I have yet to see him post any brand bashing drivel.

I do find it interesting that the Class Mead was in - Car OP/2 or "Score" class, 4 of the 5 entrants DQ'd.
You would think a vehicle made for Baja would survive.
This shows you which race REALLY is the toughest race in the world.

Some people love to hate, and just can't deal with someone's success. What a shame.

Congrats to Sue and her team! Great job!!

Thanks I will leave it at that.


The 2011 Ford F-150 S.V.T. Raptor, made Four Wheeler Magazine's, 2011 Pickup Truck Of The Year!!!

The 2011 Ford F-250 Super Duty made second place!

The 2011 Chevrolet Silverado 2500HD made third place.

Way to go Ford!!! Keep the great products coming!

By the way, I think that Four Wheeler Magazine is a better authority at testing trucks than a car magazine like Motor Trend.

I assure you I know, what Dakar is about. But original Dakar.From Paris to Dakar. I was watching that on tv every day. Fun and proud.
This car is from country, where I am from.
Tatra won 6 times already. So I know, you are proud about Ford. Even they finished almost last.

An update from Sue Mead:

"I noticed that some of your readers have questions about our finish--and our somewhat slow time for the "special" or off road rally stage 13. An explanation: We were making good time on our final stage when the passenger-side rear shock mount gave way 10 kilometers from the finish. Darren quickly removed the shock and we finished the final kilometers in a cautious fashion. Nearing the podium, we came to the Banaderos Race Course and also completed this slowly to cross the finish line. We completed all requirements, when we drove the Raptor back to Buenos Aires and turned the truck in to the Rally organizers at Dakar's closed park. We crossed the finisher's podium on Sunday, January 16th and were delighted to be presented the trophy for 1st in Class for OP2."

- Mike

@ Zviera - most North Americans know very little about the
Dakar Rally.
I mistakenly assumed that you were talking about "Dodge Caravan" or do they have those crappy things in the Czech Republic.
My apologies, is a "Caravan" in the Czech Republic what we call a "camper" or "trailer".
I have always been more interested in motorcycle racing than "car" racing.
Those Dakar motorcycle racers are the ones that are truly amazing.

I am happy for Ford and Sue Mead and her crew.
Is it something I am proud of?
It does not bring me honor or increase my sense of self worth or self esteem.
I hope that more people from North America take part in the toughest race in the world.
I would love to see better coverage from the North American media.

No, you are absolutely right. I moved to canada 10 years ago and my wife has Dodge Caravan.
I am just joking, because I noticed some people take this web site to seriously.
That Dakar coverage is really poor. I use to watch Dakar for hours and hours long time ago. It's very nice and hard race. Nothing to compare with. There is still tons of videos on You Tube.

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