Mustang Dark Horse R Race Series Announced

Dark Horse R reveal at Charlotte Motor Speedway

New Mustang Dark Horse R to Be Core of Five Weekend, 10-Race Mustang Challenge Series
The new IMSA-sanctioned single-make series  will feature the Mustang Dark Horse R, based on the street Dark Horse bridging the gap to the GT3 and GT4 racing versions set to debut in competition in 2024.

The five weekends scheduled include a pair supporting the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship events at Watkins Glen and Road America, plus one accompanying the Michelin Pilot Challenge at Mid-Ohio and another the weekend of the World Endurance Championship race at Circuit of the Americas, then the season finale Charlotte Motor Speedway’s ROVAL. The weekends feature a pair of sprint races for the pony cars.

“It’s a great schedule that goes to a lot of great tracks throughout the year,” commented Mark Rushbrook, global director, Ford Performance Motorsports. “We think we’ve got some some good races with IMSA. We love COTA and the opportunity to go there with WEC. And Charlotte Motor Speedway is in many ways – even though we’re a Michigan based company – a home base. Our Ford Performance tech center is there in Charlotte, Ford Performance Racing School is there in Charlotte. So that’s just a great place to race on a great track with a lot of facilities nearby.”

Each Dark Horse R will be built identically from the factory, with modifications concentrated on safety and reliability instead of improved performance. Racing on Michelin slicks, safety and reliability modifications include the roll cage and improved engine and brake cooling. Dark Horse R racers feature adjustable roll bars and camber plates to ease setup for the teams. Multimatic, Ford Performance’s partner in building the GT3 and GT4 cars, will supply adjustable DSSV dampers. Braking will be handled by Brembo racing brake calipers and with performance-oriented ABS and a Tremec manual transmission will be installed in the $145,000 race car.

“When we renewed Mustang as a road car with a seventh generation, we knew we had that long-term commitment to Mustang with a combustion engine, we knew that we wanted to keep it on the racetrack. We looked at what the platform was and where sports car racing is in total. And with the opportunity to do Mustang GT3, that was an immediate no brainer. And we wanted to have a complete ladder, full grassroots, so for us a one-make series made a lot of sense. We’ve got such a great starting point with Dark Horse as a road car — make minimal modifications to it, come and race it,” said Rushbrook.

The Mustang Challenge series will join additional IMSA-sanctioned single-make series, including the Porsche Deluxe Carrera Cup North America, Ferrari Challenge, Lamborghini Super Trofeo and Idemitsu Mazda MX-5 Cup series. Alongside the Michelin Pilot Challenge and VP Racing SportsCar Challenge, these five championships could complicate the already difficult task of weekend scheduling if they all race on IMSA core weekends. Joining the other one-make championships Mustang Challenge will run with other series, providing more flexible scheduling possibilities.

“There are only so many hours in these days to go racing,” explained IMSA President and CEO John Doonan. “So being able to work with those partners to find weekends that work for them from a marketing perspective is important. So that’s why you see the Charlotte Roval on there and you see that WEC race in COTA. With their involvement in WEC, that made sense for them.” Proton Competition will be campaigning the Mustang GT3 in WEC’s new LMGT3 class.

John Davison

Long-time RIS staffer, beginning in the mid-80s. Charlotte, NC area local contact.

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Volume 2023, Issue 8, Posted 7:51 PM, 08.04.2023