January 18, 2021
Ford Bronco R redeems itself, finishes the 2020 Baja 1000

Ford Bronco R redeems itself, finishes the 2020 Baja 1000



Ford

There may have only been two entries in Class 2 at the Baja 1000 this past weekend, but the competition was fiercer than ever in the Mexican off-road race. In last year’s race the Bronco R did not take the checkered flag due to cooling problems. This year the Bronco R came back and finished the 898-mile course in 32 hours, 31 minutes and 21 seconds, but still couldn’t get past Scuderia Cameron Glickenhaus’ homage to Steve McQueen’s Baja Boot, which accomplished the same feat in 27:15:46.

This year’s course was very technical, with plenty of silt and tight tracks. A mountain pass towards the end of the race took out plenty of rigs while the deep whoops of San Felipe challenged even the longest of long-travel suspensions.

The Bronco R runs Ford’s stock 2.7-liter EcoBoost V6 pushing out 310 horsepower and 400 pound-feet of torque, mated to a 10-speed automatic transmission. Both the front and rear suspension setups are race-prepped, however, and the Fox shocks offer a bit more travel with bypass dampers and pneumatic bump stops.

Meanwhile, the SCG Boot uses a GM-sourced, 6.2-liter V8 with over 400 hp, mated to the GM 4L80E four-speed automatic transmission. The Boot’s suspension has 19 inches of travel. 

Both rigs had fairly clean races. While the Bronco R suffered no flats and the only on-course repair was a steering rack swap, the SCG Boot rolled over and was able to keep going with no mechanical issues. It did, however, puncture one of its 40-inch tires.

Ford used this year’s race for its final validation of the Bronco’s Baja drive mode. The company is relying on off-road racing champions like Cameron Steele, Curt LeDuc, Johnny Campbell, Shelby Hall and Jason Scherer, all of whom piloted the Bronco R, to help tune throttle response and shift patterns in this go-fast mode of the SUV’s terrain management system.

Better to finish second than not finish at all.


Ford

The SCG Boot is road-legal and obviously tough as nails, but it also costs a whopping $258,750. If I had the money, I’d consider it, but let’s be honest, the sub-$50,000 Bronco Wildtrak is a bit more within the reality of my bank account.

Class 2 is described as a “combined truck and car class for vehicles and engines with no restrictions.” Once the Bronco comes to production it could move to the Stock Full class, which requires a production run of 5,000 units over the course of 12 months. That would switch its competition to vehicles like the Toyota Land Cruiser, which completed the race this year in 38:49:48, or the Mercedes-Benz G-Class which, although it didn’t make it within the 40-hour time limit, eventually crossed the finish line.

The Bronco was the first production 4×4 to win the Baja 1000 way back in 1969, but now with Trophy Trucks completing the course in less than 20 hours, that’s a feat it will most likely never accomplish again. We’ll see what happens in 2021 when the Bronco could move to Stock Full, leaving the SCG Boot with no competition at all.


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First published Nov. 23.



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