The 2023 Ford Ranger Raptor will replace the Ford Mustang GT that has been the category Safety Car since late 2018, which itself took over from the Lexus RC-F. It will remain branded as the BP Ultimate Safety Car.
“BP is a brand known for its innovation and focus on sustainability, and we are delighted to have collaborated with BP to introduce our lower carbon E75 Racing Fuel for the beginning of the Gen3 era of Supercars this year,” said Supercars General Manager, Commercial, Jamie Black.
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“Having Ford's continued support as Official Vehicle Supplier of the Championship is fantastic too, the Ford vehicle range provides us with the ideal line-up of vehicles to support all aspects of our sport.”
The switch comes at a model changeover period for Ford, with the new S650 Ford Mustang racing as a Gen3 Supercar not yet in showrooms. The opening round of the 2023 Repco Supercars Championship was in fact the S650's global racing debut in a major coup for both Supercars and Ford Australia.
However, the S550 leading the newer S650 Mustang is not ideal from a marketing perspective, and with the Ford Ranger battling with the Toyota Hilux as the best-selling vehicle in the country, the decision to switch to the new Ranger Raptor was made.
It's expected that the Mustang will return as Safety Car once the S650 hits local showrooms in the second half of 2023. The current S550 Mustang Safety Car will remain on duty as a secondary Safety Car if needed.
A new bp Ultimate Safety Car? Bert approves ✅
— Supercars (@supercars) April 26, 2023
The Ranger Raptor is not new to the Supercars tour.
In 2018, Ford Australia began supplying support vehicles as it returned to Supercars, the then-new nameplate saw service as the Recovery Vehicle, making its first appearance at the Sandown 500.
The Mustang GT was supplied as the Safety Car and Course Car, with the Ford Mondeo the Medical Car.
The Mondeo Medical Car has since been replaced by the Focus ST, which left Ford showrooms at the end of 2022, with the Ford Escape ST-Line taking over Medical Car duties from this season's opening round at Newcastle.
Ford has since announced that the Escape will no longer be offered for sale in Australia after 2023, meaning another nameplate will be required to perform the Medical Car role.
The move to the Ranger Raptor makes more sense from a Ford perspective, given that the Ranger – which has its engineering base in Australia – is now a truly global product, with the previous model introduced into North America in 2019, post the development of the original Ranger Raptor.
It was the Asia-Pacific focus that saw the previous Ranger Raptor powered by a 2.0-litre Bi-Turbo four-cylinder which was criticised, even if it was still easily capable of pulling Supercars from sand traps with its 2500kg tow rating.
The new Ranger Raptor will be the first Ranger Raptor to go on sale in North America when it hits showrooms in 2024.
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