While we wait for the delayed 2021 Ford Bronco to reach showrooms, we’re eager for any news in the interim that demonstrates its capabilities out in the real world. And though production vehicles aren’t rolling off the line yet, that doesn’t stop Ford from racing it. It just announced that a stock Bronco Badlands four-door landed a third-place finish in the National Off-Road Racing Association (NORRA) Mexican 1000 rally across the Baja Peninsula.
“Bronco has a long, successful history racing down here, so we wanted to put the new one to the test as our final Built Wild Extreme Testing validation – and it exceeded our every expectation for performance across this treacherous environment,” said Bronco engineering manager Jamie Groves. “This race is a key final pre-launch check box for what the Bronco can do.”
Groves and fellow Bronco engineer Seth Goslawski drove most of the race. Brad Lovell, who has won this race three times and helped advise Ford on the Bronco’s development, drove a stage on the first day. The rally runs 1,100 miles over a lot of beautiful, rugged scenery: dirt, rocks, ruts, dry lakebeds and salt flats.
The SUV was stock except for the mandated safety gear: roll cage, harnesses, seats and fire equipment. It had the optional 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6 and 10-speed auto.
“We had some stretches of hard-packed roads that were made for Bronco, topping 100 mph in some of the dry lake beds,” said Groves. “Baja mode [one of the GOAT driving modes] was especially helpful in this terrain. It keeps shift points at just the right rpm to keep the turbos spooled up so power is there when you need it and brakes are more aggressive to slow quickly for rough terrain.”
This Bronco ran on stock 33-inch BFGoodrich all-terrain tires, Dana 44 AdvanTEK M220 rear axle and M210 independent front suspension with Spicer Performa-Trak electronic lockers, and with long-travel Bilstein coil-over shocks and position-sensitive dampers. The Badlands trim includes a front sway-bar disconnect.