Dakar 2014: Marathon Rally Is One-Third Finished

5 FordRangerDakar1

By John Rettie

(Editor's note: Report filed Wednesday Jan. 8)

Robby Gordon is quite possibly the best-known racer from the U.S. in South America. And that's no surprise, since his spectacular driving style and his underdog attempt to win the famous Dakar Rally has made him a hero to the millions of fans who follow the annual Dakar, which is underway right now in South America, instead of Africa, for the sixth time.

True to form Gordon got thousands of screaming fans on their feet at the formal start of the world's toughest auto race by jumping off the podium. Alas, his spectacular start was marred during the first two days when his newly built HST Gordini off-road racer suffered from some frustrating teething troubles, which placed him in a humbling position among the back markers at the end of the second day.

He did make up for it in the following two days when the stages got tougher, and he clawed his way back up to 31st position, some four hours behind the leader.

Team Ford

One of the most impressive new teams in this year's Dakar is the Team Ford Racing outfit that has two 5.0-liter V-8-powered Ford Rangers. Although the team is based in South Africa, it received plenty of assistance from Ford's Special Vehicle Team in Detroit and has an international team of engineers. As rookies it would be tough for the team to win the Dakar, but once Lucio Alvarez from Argentina hits his stride, after overcoming some mechanical problems, his Ranger finished in 16th place on the tough 313-mile-long stage on the fourth day as the rally crossed hot desert areas along the foothills of the Andes Mountains.

Giniel De Villiers, who won the Dakar in 2009 in a VW Race Touareg, returned this year in a much improved Toyota HiLux prepared by Imperial Toyota in South Africa. De Villiers has always been a consistent driver who gets the job done without a lot of drama. Despite mechanical issues, by the end of the fourth day he was in sixth position overall, just 40 minutes behind the leader. He could win overall if others run into the troubles that seem to be affecting everyone so far this year.

No less than 11 X-Raid ALL4 Racing Minis started in this year's race, and after their tremendous success last year they are clear favorites for this year's win. After three days Nani Roma had a clear lead in one of the Minis. St├ęphane Peterhansel, who has won the Dakar 12 times, said he had one of his worst ever days when he suffered four punctures during one stage, which dropped him down the leader board.

Stage Updates

Carlos Sainz, who won the event in 2010 in a VW Race Touareg, is in a new SMG Buggy. After three days he stunned everyone by storming through the field on the fourth day to take the day's stage win and grab the overall first place ahead of Peterhansel. It was the first stage win for a two-wheel-drive car this year. Perhaps the Minis are not invincible after all.


6 Gordon Dakar SPEED3


Saturday is rest day at Salta in northern Argentina. From there the motorcycles and quads will head into Bolivia for the first time ever. The cars and trucks will run two stages in Argentina before all the competitors cross the Andes and head south through the fabulous deserts of northern Chile to the finish in Valparaiso, Chile, on Jan. 18.

You can track rally progress in real time at Dakar.com, and catch up with the previous days' action each day on NBCSN. Click here for the TV schedule. You can also keep track of Gordon's exploits by visiting Toyo Tires. And you can track the Team Ford Racing Rangers here.

We'll bring you a wrap up of the whole event along with some great action photos after the Dakar ends. Will a Mini win again or will it be a buggy or a pickup truck? It's far too early to predict as only a third of the total 1,250 miles of the rally's competitive racing has taken place so far.


3 Dakar 2014 map

1 2014_Dakar_Nani_ROma

7 SainzDakarLeaderSMGBuggy

4 DeVilliersToyota

8 TeamFordRacingDakar



LOL, Ford has 3 total entries and Toyota has nearly FIFTY! But we know what PUTC is gonna promote... .

I've been reading a little bit on the Ford Dakar and Team Ford vehicles from Sth Africa for a while.

I don't think we'll see a V8 Hilux for street use. I think there is a better chance of a 5 litre Coyote powered Ranger.

Australia will need a niche vehicle like this to replace the Falcon ute in a couple of years.

The potential to make the Ranger innto a Raptor subsitute and even a successor is high.

What I've wrote is speculative. Team Ford had made a V8 beating Ranger (previous Ranger based on the global Mazda chassis) using he 3.2 Duratorque diesel.

GM is also running a 6.2 Colorado. I not sure if it is actually racing in the Dakar.

Read up (research) on this Dakar Ranger, first. If you had you wouldn't have made the comment you just made.

I wonder why FORD didn't use the EGOBOOST motor? There must have been a chance of rain. LOL

You'll find a 2.3 litre Eco Boost would have sufficed. I don't know if they are having any issue regarding rain/water.

The 5 litre Coyote, if I remember isn't developing as much power as the 'standard' 3.5 Eco Boost used in the F-150 for reliability purposes.

The Dakar Ranger only has a maximum speed of 160kph (100mph) in it's Dakar race trim.

The Dakar Ranger is also built on a tubular frame similar to a buggy with composite body panels.

This is as similar to a Ranger as a Hyundai i30. It isn't really a Ranger as such, just a representation of one.

Here are some good photo's that show off the construction of the Dakar Ranger.

Of interest is the IRS and IFS. (@ALL1). Look at how long the control arms are.


Here's an interesting article from Ford Sth Africa on the 3.2 Duratorque (the same engine going into the US Transit van).

The diesel develops 320hp and over 600ftlb of torque.

The Ford Ranger (previous generation global) is based on the global Mazda BT50 platform, unlike the current Dakar Ranger.

This vehicle was also a test bed for the new global Ranger/BT50. I'm hoping the Dakar Ranger is being used to assist in developing a V8 global Ranger/BT50.

If it is watch out Raptor!


Here's GM's concept 'Colorado' powered by a LS7 Corvette engine. It actually looks really good.

You don't get much on this stuff being a heavily NA orientated site :(

It's all interesting Dakar, a mix of NA, African, Australian, Japanese, Euro all mashed into one, like the Dakar Ranger and this Dakar Colorado.


Robbie Gordon needs to learn that this race is about consistency and staying out of trouble. IIRC, many of the winners are former Dakar motorcycle racers. That is a great place to learn going fast at a safe pace.

There are other Americans at the Dakar.
BJ Baldwin (Oklahoma) and co-pilot Quinn Cody (California) are driving a Colorado. I'm trying to find more information on the team and the truck.

The Go2Dakar team from the Netherlands are back again with a Ram 2500.

@The Real Lou
I just looked at a before and after photo of the Go2 Ram 2500.

I looks like a basic dual cab 4x4 HD, not a Power Wagon. Hmmm.

It's quite large. Last year it finished the Dakar and came in a respectable 74th place.

Looking at the current stats it's running in 89th place.

@Big Al from Oz
No you will not see a 5 V8 Ranger. The Hilux and the Ranger use Petrol(gas) engines as they are not allowed to run diesels in the South African series where they were developed..which is pretty peculiar seeing their are no V8 options for either.

@Lou_ BC. Stephane Peterhansel was a former gymnast who went to Bikes and won 7 Dakar races in the Bike section then switched to cars.
Another interesting entrant is Adam Malyz. Who is one of the best every Ski jumpers in history

He did his first Dakar in 2012 finished 37th in 2013 finished 15th. He is currently 9th overall.

The "Minis" are rebodied BMW SUV's with a 3 Litre 300hp, 500lbft of torque diesel engine. A Long way removed from the street versions.

Well the Haval "Great Wall" Chinese modified production Pickup actually won the first stage with Carlos Souza. It does have a modified production 3 litre diesel and body.
He has since dropped out, but his running mate is currently in 10th.

@Robert Ryan
I really do think we'll be getting a V8 Ranger. It would sell in considerable numbers. There still are many yobbo's wanting that kind of equipment.

As for the Dakar Ranger, it's odd not to have the diesel. It appears Ford Racing put a lot of effort into developing a diesel engine for off road racing that has the same horsepower and 50% more torque and is as reliable as the Coyote. It might have something to do with FE.

Racing the Ranger is using up to 90 litres of fuel per 100km or less than 5mpg. The diesel would double that.

The 5 litre Coyote is developing stock power and torque as well. You can see where the future is with powerplants.

@Big Al from Oz
"It might have something to do with FE."

Nothing to do with FE. The SA Authorities do not allow Diesels to race in Pickups. The Haval Great Wall Pickup is doing very well, that is with a 3 Litre Diesel in the Dakar but would be banned in SA.

I cannot see a V8 Ranger, it would not fit into Fords plans to sell the Ranger in other countries other than, Australia, new Zealand and South Africa.

BJ Baldwin is basically running a SCORE approved Chevrolet Colorado. He will starting 63rd for the 7th stage and his overall position is 39th.

@Robert Ryan
What I wrote was poorly written.

The FE is regarding the power output of the Coyote. If the engine is tuned to develop more power it will really chew up the fuel.

Hence my comment of "The 5 litre Coyote is developing stock power and torque as well. You can see where the future is with powerplants."

The diesel is a far superior choice to the V8 Coyote. The 3.2 has the same power 66% more torque and would use half the fuel.

We'll have a 'sportsman bet' on the V8 Ranger. The US would be out of the equation, maybe not the Canadians.

@ Robert Ryan - SCORE Baja trucks run longer suspensions and other mods. Dakar Rally Raid events IIRC have more "restrictive" rules. It is nice to see more interest from North American teams.

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