What promised to be a storybook ending for the Bronco R, which is the embodiment of the new 2021 Bronco, will have to wait another year. Its attempt to finish the prestigious Bajas 1000 race ended this weekend with a DNF. The effort was plagued with many Gremlins over the long weekend.
Ford communications manager Mike Levine tweeted, “So proud of our team! Some tough breaks. It’s disappointing to not finish this year’s Baja 1000 but Ford looks forward to continuing to test and further improve the Bronco R prototype race vehicle and looks forward to returning next year!”
Baja 1000 race saw numerous problems early on
Levine told Jalopnik there were a series of problems that plagued the effort almost from the beginning. A trophy truck accidentally hit the F-150 Raptor in San Quentin Wash near the 190-mile mark. This damaged a skid plate that also damaged transmission cooling lines. Unfortunately, the repaired skid plate masked the leaking cooling lines.
Once they made it to Pit 3 they spent hours there to fix the damaged lines. At the 480-mile marker, a fabricated lower control arm broke, which also took time to replace. Later an aftermarket cooling fan let go. By then it was night time with the most challenging part of the race ahead.
It was anticipated they would not finish until after the time limit for the race had expired, so they loaded it up and that was that. Levine noted all of the pre-production Ford parts “performed flawlessly. No engine or chassis issues.”
Prototype celebrated the 50th anniversary of Bronco race win
The Bronco R prototype was developed as a collaboration between Ford Performance and Geiser Performance in Phoenix, Arizona. It was built to test pre-production Ford components, and also to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Bronco with its overall 4×4 win in 1969.
Ford became the lead sponsor this year for 13 races in the SCORE World Desert Challenge Series. The Baja 1000 is the crown jewel of the SCORE Series which also includes the SCORE Baja 400, Baja 500, and San Felipe 250 races.
Ford will be back next year for Baja 1000
“Working with SCORE makes great sense based on our truck, SUV, and off-road heritage, and especially with some of our future Ford trucks and SUVs including the reveal of the new Bronco next spring,” said Mark Rushbrook, global director of Ford Performance motorsports. “Vehicles like our F-150 Raptor and all-new Bronco are built to live and play in the sand of Baja.”
Ford could actually time the launch of the all-new Bronco, which will be in the spring of 2020, with some upcoming SCORE World Desert Championship races. The San Felipe 250 takes place March 25-29, 2020. The Baja 500 is in June 2020, and Baja 400 in September 2020. The 2020 Baja 1000 will be back November 16-21, 2020.