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Play in the Dirt: The Testing Behind Mustang Mach-E Rally

Beginning as an idea tossed around in an engineering breakroom, Mustang Mach-E® Rally is a testament to what’s possible when you combine passion with design and engineering.

“Can we make a rally-inspired version of the Mustang Mach-E?” 

That’s the message that greeted product planners Peter Schultz and Craig Migliori on an early morning in 2022. To answer that question, they took a hand-me-down Mach-E GT, added some wheels and off-road tires, and headed up to Ford’s Michigan Proving Grounds to see if it could handle some laps in the dirt.

Their verdict? A resounding yes.

The team knew from the beginning that the Mach-E Rally not only needed an appearance worthy of the nameplate, but also needed some real rallycross-inspired capability.

A 1-inch lift from normal Mustang Mach-E GT suspension height with RallyCross-tuned shocks and springs helps the Mustang Mach-E® Rally SUV tackle uneven and rough terrain. Gloss-white 19-inch wheels are wrapped in Michelin® CrossClimate2 rubber for loose-surface traction and strength, while underbody shielding helps to protect the vehicle from the grime that’s common in this type of driving.

Finally, to highlight its high-performance personality, the team added contrasting accents, including upper and lower body moldings, a front splitter and rear spoiler for aggressive styling, black painted steel roof, and built-in rally-inspired fog lights.

But even after making these modifications, how could they prove the Mach-E Rally could truly handle rallycross driving? That’s where Ford off-road attributes engineer, Chris Berchin, and vehicle engineering supervisor, Jay Kistler, come in.  

Drive testing, informed by the rallycross experience of the Ford team, included a brand new 500-combined mile torture test at Ford’s Michigan Proving Grounds – designed to put Mustang Mach-E® Rally SUV through the equivalent of 10 years of monthly rallycross racing. Rallycross driving entails tight turns through dirt tracks, a great environment for Mustang Mach-E Rally.

“We tested in numerous different weather scenarios and temperatures with conditions ranging from muddy to dry – typical of what rallycross competitors might face,” Chris said, “Likewise, the surface is dirt of varying composition, allowing for different traction scenarios.”

Chris’s experience with rallycross racing, combined with Jay’s expertise as the vehicle engineering supervisor, gave the group the necessary tools for quick ideation and success.

And the team was off. 

What began as a grassy, unused field at Ford’s Michigan Proving Grounds is now a fully built, rallycross testing course. Before shovels hit the dirt, the team attended rallycross events and interviewed drivers to ensure that the course was a true analog of real rallycross racing environments. 

After plotting out the twists and turns, Ford’s engineers completed a full computer-aided engineering (CAE) analysis of the course, mapping elevation, expected speeds, timing, and more. Armed with sensors and measuring equipment, the team used this technology to ensure that not only did the course have the look and feel of a rallycross race, but that the data backed it up.  

This in-house development of both the course and vehicle not only helped keep costs and development time down, but aided in the secrecy of the Mustang Mach-E Rally project. Recognizing this success, the team received a Vehicle Engineering Validation award from Ford – an internal award to celebrate such a successful project, designed and realized entirely in-house.  

The Mustang Mach-E® Rally team was able to modify the existing Mustang Mach-E® vehicle for  performance on dirt roads. The powertrain calibration, traction control, and MagneRide® suspension are tuned for dirt-track and rallycross capability. Raised suspension works to help ensure dirt-track and rallycross performance.

These changes, along with some behind-the-scenes engineering, work to create Ford’s RallySport drive mode – a performance profile for the vehicle that unleashes the full Mustang Mach-E® Rally SUV capability for dirt roads without compromising on-road behavior.  

The RallySport drive mode from Ford is designed for dirt-track driving and allows for added yaw for bigger slides, a linear throttle response for better control, and more aggressive damping for better handling in loose corners.

Mustang Mach-E Rally started as a single question just over two years ago and soon will be in customer hands. And more importantly, on the dirt track. 

Order yours today.




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MagneRide is a trademarked technology of BWI Group.

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