The Repco Supercars Championship debuted a new bp Ultimate Safety Car at the Perth SuperSprint round in late April, with Ford’s Ranger Raptor replacing the Mustang GT that’s filled the role since 2018. The high-performance ute will likely remain on Safety Car duty until the end of the 2023 season.
While a Ranger is not new to Supercars (it’s been the category’s recovery vehicle since 2018), the Safety Car role is new and the first time in the category’s modern history that anything other than a conventional passenger car, coupe or wagon has filled the role.
The Ranger Raptor’s elevation to Safety Car duty is mainly due to the optics of the “old” sixth-generation (S550) Mustang leading the new Supercars Mustangs, which are based on the seventh-generation (S650) version. While the Gen7 S650 Mustang is due to go sale in the US shortly, it won’t reach Australia until the end of this year, meaning the Ranger Raptor may not be replaced as the bp Ultimate Safety Car until the 2024 season.
When announcing the Ranger Raptor bp Ultimate Safety Car on 26 April, bp confirmed a continuation of their partnership with Supercars as the category’s Official Fuel Supplier until at least the end of 2024, as well as a wider commitment to motorsport across Australia and New Zealand.
New initiatives under this extended partnership include the introduction of bp E75 Racing Fuel that boasts a lower well-to-wheel carbon intensity than the fuel used last season and is now in use across the entire Repco Supercars Championship grid.
“We’ve been delighted with the first three years of our partnership with Supercars and want to continue this journey with the sport over the next few years." said Leigh Taylor, GM AsPac Brand and Communications for bp.
"Safety is paramount to all of us at bp, so to have the opportunity to continue our support with the bp Ultimate Safety Car is something we're really proud of."
“We look forward to the new generation of the Supercars Championship with bp and we hope fans are excited for what’s in store in 2023 and beyond.”
Aside from its special livery, and the addition of dedicated lighting and communications equipment, the Ranger Raptor is unaltered from the latest version that was released here in March, meaning it’s powered by a 3.0-litre twin-turbo EcoBoost petrol V6 producing 292kW and 583Nm, while an integral, electronically controlled active exhaust system allows engine sounds to be adjusted from mild to wild.
The twin-turbo V6 is matched to a ten-speed sports automatic transmission with paddle shifters, while the constant four-wheel drive features selectable off-road driving modes. These won’t get much of a workout on the Supercars circuit, nor will things like the active off-road suspension, 272mm ground clearance and 850mm wading depth, but the 332mm ventilated disc brakes on all four wheels will be put to use more often and the 17-inch wheels shod with rubber that’s more road-biased.
The Ranger Raptor bp Ultimate Safety Car will be supported by the ‘bp Ultimate Race Control 1’ Mustang GT, which acts as a reserve Safety Car should any issues arise with the Raptor.
A Ford Escape ST-Line continues its role as the bp Ultimate Medical Car, while a second Ford Escape ST-Line will operate as bp Ultimate Race Control 2, which is used for various official purposes and also as a reserve vehicle when needed.
In addition to official duties, like opening and closing the circuit and transporting officials at each round, the fleet of bp Ultimate safety vehicles will also be utilised to take fans around the circuit during Course Car Experience sessions.
Ford Australia General Manager of Marketing Communications, John Hatzimanolis, said that Ford was excited to introduce the Ranger Raptor as the Supercars’ Safety Car for the 2023 season.
“Ranger is one of Australia’s best-selling vehicles, and the Raptor is the Ford Performance variant, built to tackle almost anything you can throw at it. It will be fantastic to see our flagship performance truck leading the Supercars pack.”
Supercars General Manager – Commercial, Jamie Black, added: “We’re very pleased to have extended our deal with bp through to at least the end of 2024 [and] having Ford’s continued support as Official Vehicle Supplier of the Championship is fantastic. The Ford vehicle range provides us with the ideal line-up of vehicles to support all aspects of our sport.
“To have such well-known international brands partner with Supercars is tremendous news for the category, and we look forward to continuing these fruitful partnerships in 2023 and beyond.”