Ford Mustang Dark Horse R: new ‘turn-key race car’ revealed

Customer racing car version of the new Mustang launches for one-make race series

Ford has revealed the Mustang Dark Horse R, a customer racing version of the new Dark Horse road car. The Dark Horse R has been created for a new, one-make Mustang Challenge race series in the USA, which kicks off in 2024. 

The Dark Horse R is, as the name suggests, based on the new Ford Mustang Dark Horse road car. It has the same 5-litre naturally-aspirated V8 engine (main difference being an altered oil pan to cope with the high cornering forces in racing, and ancillary changes including a racing exhaust and additional cooling measures for the drivetrain), the same Tremec H-pattern manual gearbox and Torsen limited-slip diff.

> 2024 Ford Mustang GT3 revealed

It’s built using the same body-in-white, from Ford’s Flat Rock, Michigan factory, as the production Mustang, but is fitted with a racing fuel cell, with a large capacity for long races and track sessions, plus a full roll cage. Suspension includes two-way adjustable dampers by Multimatic, and adjustable front and rear anti-roll bars. Race-spec Brembo brakes are housed within the wheels, shod with Michelin slicks developed specifically for the Mustang Challenge series.

The Dark Horse R will be eligible to race in wider racing formulas, too; Ford is talking with the SCCA [Sports Car Club of America] and other organisations about the car’s eligibility to race in other series. The Mustang Dark Horse R’s price? $145,000, plus taxes. The cars will be run by race teams and individuals rather than it being an ‘arrive-and-drive’ series run by Ford. Insiders estimate the cost for a season to be around the $250,000 mark; racing is expensive. 

evo was present at the car’s unveiling inside the Ford Performance technical centre in Charlotte, North Carolina. It’s certainly loud; ear defenders were essential for its rambunctious entrance. Like the US-spec Dark Horse R road car, the Ford Coyote V8 turns out approximately 500bhp.

The modest fixed rear wing suggests this car will be more about mechanical grip than aero. There’s no traction control, which should make for exciting racing and an entertaining driving experience, but the car does feature a race-spec ABS system. Ford can’t reveal the car’s kerb weight at present.

Ford Mustang Dark Horse S: the track day version

Ford will reveal a more affordable Dark Horse S model in the near future, designed for track days rather than racing. Spec and price are still being finalised, but certain aspects are confirmed. For example, it will utilise the same cage as the R, and the road car’s engine and transmission, along with the production fuel tank. It won’t have a racing fuel cell, which will save cost but make the car ineligible for some racing series. 

More Mustang racers to come

Ford recently revealed the Mustang GT3, a serious racing car being developed together with specialists Multimatic, which will compete at Le Mans next year in the hands of customer teams. 

Further down the scale, there’ll be the Mustang Dark Horse GT4 car, which will be eligible for a multitude of GT racing series around the world, and considerably more expensive than the Dark Horse R. The R and GT4 will share certain attributes, for example, the same body-in-white and the same rollcage. The GT4, however, will have much more engine and aero work, a racing paddle-shift transmission and bespoke Bosch traction control. The GT4 car will have similar dampers to the Dark Horse R but the latter will have a more ‘production-style’ suspension layout for the likes of its anti-roll bars.

The Mustang Racing Challenge is sanctioned by the US motorsport organisation IMSA. Its calendar for 2024 will be announced shortly, and is expected to comprise six weekends, with two races at each at circuits across the USA.

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