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Ford explains Formula E snub after launching Dakar Rally project

Ford will continue to steer clear of Formula E amid the significant expansion of its global motorsport programme.

Maximilian Günther, Maserati Racing

The brand has just announced another fully-fledged factory racing programme, with at least a two-year commitment to a Dakar Rally programme using the Ford Ranger.

That joins the growing list of Ford Performance programmes around the world, headlined by the impending entry to Formula 1 with Red Bull in 2026.

There are also factory programmes in NASCAR, Supercars and, as of next year, customer GT racing with the Mustang GT3 and GT4 cars. 

But while full-electrification is one of the pillars of the Ford Performance philosophy, there are no plans for an electric racing programme.

Speaking to media during the Dakar announcement, Ford Performance boss Mark Rushbrook said the brand would instead focus on its 'demonstrator' vehicles to showcase its prowess in electrification.

They include the Ford Mustang Mach-E 1400, the Cobra Jet 1400 drag car, and the SuperVan 4. 

"Where we don't have the opportunity to race in what we think is a good or relevant full electric series, we take advantage of those demonstrators," said Rushbrook. 

"[There are] no rules. They are rolling innovation labs that allow us to learn about high-performance, full-electric vehicles, and take that learning back to our road car programmes and also to take that electrified learning over to Formula 1."

Ford Ranger Raptor for 2024 Dakar Rally

Ford Ranger Raptor for 2024 Dakar Rally

Photo by: Ford

When pressed by Autosport on why Formula E wasn't seen as a suitable platform for Ford, Rushbrook said: "Obviously if we wanted to be in Formula E, we would be in Formula E. 

"When we look at the different reasons why we're in motorsports, we feel that for full-electrification, there's a better return in terms of what we're getting from those full-electric demonstrators than what's available from Formula E. 

"That's not a direct knock on Formula E, they put on a lot of great racing. There has actually been some very entertaining racing this year. 

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"But what we see, for the spend we can put into these demonstrators, with no rules to limit what we can or cannot do, we can learn exactly what we want, in the way that we want, and put on a very compelling story in the way that we want to. 

"My comment wasn't meant to knock any of the full electric series, it's just, we didn't think they are right for us for what we want to learn and the story we want to tell."

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