Ford Performance Australia is campaigning an ARB-sponsored Ranger Raptor with FOX Live Valve shocks during the 55th BFGoodrich Tires SCORE Baja 1000 Presented By 4 Wheel Parts in the Stock Full class on November 18. The only modifications allowed were adding safety equipment, communications, and navigation. FOX engineers Dustin Munts and Ola Nilsson were integral in coordinating suspension tuning changes to accommodate the roll cage and extra equipment like tools and spares.
The only changes made from the Australian setup were raising front ride height to accommodate increased tire size (35-inch from 33) and getting an initial tune created for the first field test in southern California near our El Cajon facility.
Ford Performance worked with Australia’s Kelly Racing to build the Baja-ready Ranger Raptor and U.S.-based Lovell Racing to develop and race the truck at the Baja 1000 – one of the toughest off-road races in the world.
Lovell Racing, led by multi-time off-road champion and Off-Road Motorsports Hall of Famer Brad Lovell, is one of Ford Performance’s key off-road teams. This vehicle was built and tested in Australia before being brought over to the U.S. for final development and testing before the endurance race.
“By entering this event, we’re building on the hundreds of thousands of kilometers of development testing and pushing the Ranger Raptor to new extremes,” Ford Performance Off-Road Motorsports Supervisor Brian Novak said. “The Baja 1000 is a demanding event and a well-known proving ground for off-road vehicles. We are excited to compete in this extreme event with Ranger Raptor.”
The Baja 1000, held on the Baja California Peninsula, is considered one of the world’s most prestigious off-road races, attracting competitors from around the globe eager to take on its miles of treacherous desert terrain, steep drops and tough climbs. In the past, both the F-150 Raptor and Ford Bronco have successfully raced at Baja.
According to FOX Director of Motorsports Bobby Smith, the first pre-run went well. The Ford US team agreed it was the smoothest testing trip thus far.
“It’s not every day that a stock vehicle is raced at the Baja 1000 with such high expectations and support,” Smith added. “Our tuning engineers made the same changes they always do before racing; this is a testament to the durability and capability of Live Valve to go from racing to the dealer floor, or in this case the opposite.”
Going deeper with Ford Ranger Raptor
Developed by Ford Performance, the new Ranger Raptor is the ultimate performance derivative of the next-gen Ranger, introduced in February 2022. With smarter technology controlling tougher, next-generation hardware, Ranger Raptor blends raw power with mechanical and technical precision to create the most advanced Ranger ever, only available in the U.K., Europe, and the Asia-Pacific market, including Australia and New Zealand.
“We’ve really focused on delivering a genuine performance truck with the next-gen Ranger Raptor,” Ford Performance Chief Program Engineer for Ranger Raptor Dave Burn said. “It’s significantly faster, looks incredible, is packed with new features and is the strongest Built Ford Tough Ranger we’ve ever made.”
The roots of the Raptor name lie in North America, where Ford engineers used it on high-performance pickup trucks. It started with the first-generation F-150 SVT Raptor in 2010, which was optimized for high-speed off-road performance. Ford focused on detailed engineering upgrades around suspension, all-terrain tires, and four-wheel drive.
In 2018 a new member of the Ford Performance family was launched. The Ford Ranger Raptor spread the Ford Performance brand to a whole new audience of hardcore truck owners around the world, introducing the Raptor name into dozens of new markets.
The next-gen Ranger Raptor continues this legacy, with a purpose-built vehicle that balances daily duties with the sort of performance never seen in a mid-size pickup.
Interview with Tony Tsiandikos, Ford Australia Chassis Engineering Manager
What’s the intention with this Ranger Raptor and its use of Live Valve?
High performance powertrain/Powerpack is the major change from previous Ranger Raptor – higher torque, higher power from a 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 engine. Entering into a higher performance capability, improved vehicle dynamics meant Ford’s test engineers could go faster around a desert durability track compared to a non Live Valve-equipped Ranger.
Any obstacles to overcome bringing Live Valve into this platform?
Not much; the main thing was protecting the shock valve assembly with a steel roost guard.
Most noticeable features?
The new engine, braking and suspension systems all needed upgrading in tandem to all perform as a unit for more driver confidence.
Alpine National Park is a series of mountain parks in Australia’s Great Dividing Range, offering the most challenging terrain. Ford engineers felt comfortable in low-speed and higher-speed articulation due to the control Live Valve provides, whether it was rock crawling or getting airborne at higher speeds. It felt like an extra boost of control was getting squeezed out of the vehicle due to its ability to maintain traction.
During our test trip, the vehicle was heavily loaded with gear plus two people while free camping. The vehicle’s performance never wavered. Live Valve handled everything as if there wasn’t added weight to the vehicle, rebalancing the vehicle/consistency for optimal handling.
Weekend warrior’s play vehicle. On-road comfort is excellent due to the chosen tune. Lean and articulation is controlled and tempered to handle road-going safety.
Next-Gen Ford Ranger Raptor Cleared to Land in Europe
Live Valve: Ideal suspension for going big
The next-gen Ranger Raptor has a unique chassis when compared to next-gen Ranger. A series of unique mounts and reinforcements, for elements including the C-pillar, load box and spare wheel, as well as unique frames for the jounce bumper, shock tower and rear shock bracket all combine to ensure next-gen Ranger Raptor can handle punishing off-road conditions.
A high-performance off-roader like the Ranger Raptor needs the running gear to match, and Ranger Raptor’s suspension is completely redesigned. All-new tough, lightweight aluminum upper and lower control arms, long travel front and rear suspension and refined Watt’s link rear end have been designed to deliver more control across rough terrain at high speed.
“The new suspension upgrades in the Ranger Raptor make the most of the new FOX Live Valve dampers. The suspension adapts in real time to enable exceptional on-road body control while absorbing corrugations and bigger ruts off-road with ease ensuring maximum control and performance,” Burn added.
Built for the Wild
Soaking up those humps and bumps are next-generation FOX 2.5-inch Live Valve Internal Bypass shock absorbers with cutting-edge control technology offering position-sensitive damping capability. These shock absorbers are the most sophisticated ever on Ranger Raptor and are filled with Teflon™-infused oil that reduces friction by around 50 percent compared to those on the previous Raptor.
While the hardware is FOX, the tuning and development work was carried out by Ford Performance using a mixture of computer-aided engineering (CAE) and real-world testing. Everything from adjusting the spring rates to setting the ride height, valve tuning and honing the ride zones was performed to create the perfect balance between comfort, control, stability, and traction on- and off-road.
Linked to Ranger Raptor’s revised selectable drive modes, the Live Valve Internal Bypass system has been developed to provide better on-road comfort and off-road ride quality both at high and low speed.
In addition to working with the drive modes, the system works in the background to prepare the Ranger Raptor for different conditions. As the shocks compress, different zones within the bypass system give exactly the amount of support needed for the travel being used and work in reverse as the shocks rebound back to full height.
To provide protection against severe bottom outs, FOX’s race-proven Bottom-Out Control provides maximum damping force in the last 25 percent of shock travel. Similarly, the system can stiffen the rear dampers to prevent Ranger Raptor from squatting under hard acceleration, improving vehicle stability. With the shocks providing the right amount of damping force at every position, the Ranger Raptor stays planted on both the road and track.
FOX 2.5-inch Live Valve shocks tech
The 2023 Ford Ranger Raptor was engineered with Live Valve, derived from FOX’s desert race-winning, position-sensitive suspension. With semi-active, electronically controlled compression damping, patented Internal Bypass technology provides a smooth and comfortable feeling on the pavement with aggressive control and stability at high speeds off-road in real time.
- 2.5-inch Live Valve Internal Bypass coil-over front, coil-over rear with piggyback reservoir shocks
- Unique tuning for on-road and off-road performance
- Internal top-out bumper to control wheel motion
- 2.5-inch diameter anodized aluminum shock bodies specially designed to withstand the higher internal pressures created by the new electronic valve’s dynamic range
- FOX low friction PTFE-infused shock fluid
FOX Live Valve with Internal Bypass
FOX’s patented position-sensitive Internal Bypass damping combined with Live Valve electronic technology continuously and intelligently adjusts compression damping in real-time, delivering the optimal ride for any terrain or driving situation. By using vehicle sensors and accelerometers, Live Valve can instantly adapt to inertial, steering, braking, and acceleration inputs to actively maximize handling, comfort, and bottom-out resistance.
What’s Internal Bypass?
FOX’s patented Internal Bypass design allows for multiple zones of control that progressively increase damping to support the vehicle. As the shocks compress, different zones within the bypass system give exactly the amount of support needed for the travel being used, and work in reverse as the shocks rebound back to full height. With the shocks providing the right amount of damping force at every position, the Ranger Raptor stays planted on both the road and trail. This gives you the confidence to go where even a mountain goat wouldn’t dare.
The Internal Bypass tubes were redesigned with a new progressive damping curves to increase fluid flow for more comfort in the ride zone, while improving the force ramp-up at the end of the stroke to counteract bottom-out in high-speed whoops and hidden rock gardens. Competitor’s shocks with position-sensitive damping are often only able to control the very end of the shock travel, leading to harsh changes in compression.
Additionally, street performance benefits from the new anti-friction FOX shock fluid, making the road-to-dirt transition virtually seamless. Real-time electronic damping control allows the Ranger Raptor to feel just at home on asphalt as the dirt.
What Live Valve does
The vehicle’s onboard ECU adjusts the shock’s compression damping multiple times per second, with the capability to add up to 700 pounds of damping force per shock in the front, and up to 500 pounds in the rear. The new Ranger Raptor was fine-tuned to be a true desert runner at high speed. Finding the right balance between comfort on the road and off-road adventure, Ford chose a tune to match both needs.
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