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With It Comes The Advent Of The Mustang Challenge

S650 Ford Mustang Dark Horse R S Race Car
The Ford Mustang Dark Horse R. Image via Ford Performance.

Just yesterday, Ford dropped a new teaser video for the upcoming Ford Mustang Dark Horse R. Today, that exciting new race-ready pony car has finally been unveiled. So, if you looked at the production Dark Horse and thought, “It needs more,” look no further than this beast of a car that slots in below the Mustang GT3 and GT4 racecars.

Ford Mustang Dark Horse R: Details

The single-make series will be launched next year and packs a serious punch with its 5.0-liter V8 engine mated to a Tremec 3160 six-speed manual. It also features a Torsen limited-slip differential from the street-ready Dark Horse. It’s unclear how much power this engine produces, but since the GT3 makes around 500 horsepower, or possibly more, we can also expect this one to. While the powertrain doesn’t appear to be affected, race-car-specific upgrades include a dry-sump oiling system and a Ford Performance oil pan to reduce windage losses and keep the engine lubed in high-g corners.

Ford Mustang Dark Horse R

The transmission and rear differential also get cooling upgrades, and a Borla racing exhaust makes the V8 spectacularly loud and beautiful. The Ford Mustang Dark Horse R trades the standard car’s MagneRide dampers for manual adjustable Multimatic DSSV dampers. Spool-valve dampers, used on vehicles like the Ford GT and Chevrolet Silverado 1500 ZR2, offer more consistent performance as the oil inside them heats up during hard driving. The Dark Horse R also features adjustable camber plates and anti-roll bars so the suspension can be dialed into the track and the driver’s preferences. Michelin Pilot Sport racing tires wrap around flow-formed Ford Performance wheels that measure 10.5 x 19 inches in front and 11.0 x 19 inches at the rear.

As with the street-legal sibling, the Mustang Dark Horse R uses monobloc six-piston aluminum Brembo front calipers, though that’s the only thing they have in common for stopping power. Despite being the same, the R uses a lighter caliper weighing 6.9 pounds each. By comparison, the road car’s calipers weigh 17 pounds each. The smaller caliper means there’s less surface area, but they are thicker to ensure they can withstand the intense heat of something like the 24 hours of Le Mans.

Ford Mustang Dark Horse R Interior

The 2024 Ford Mustang Dark Horse R’s interior has been stripped of all the creature comforts and unnecessary weight. Once that’s done, all that’s left is a single Recaro racing seat, a Sparco quick-release steering wheel and racing harness, a fuel cell, and a MoTeC data logger. Seam welding stiffens the vehicle structure, and a full roll cage is added to protect the driver. A fire suppression system is also included in the event of a fire.

Starting in 2024, Ford is launching a single-make spec series called the Mustang Challenge in partnership with IMSA to give the Dark Horse R a place to run. The challenge will run as a support series at five or six IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship events. Ford has yet to announce which venues are on the calendar, but each race weekend will include two practice sessions, a qualifying session, and two sprint races with payouts for the top finishers.

As for pricing, this “entry-level” race car isn’t for a casual hobbyist as it will set individuals back by $145,000, but considering how loaded this thing is for track performance, that price doesn’t come as a surprise.

Ford Mustang Dark Horse R

Written by Zac Quinn

Zac's love for cars started at a young age, after seeing the popular Eleanor from Gone In 60 Seconds. From there, fascination and enthusiasm blossomed and to this day the Ford Mustang remains a favorite. His first job started out detailing cars, but also provided the opportunity to work on restoration including an 1968 Ford Mustang, Pontiac Firebird, and a C3 Corvette, though he left that job before further work and experience could be had. From there, he was a detailer at a car dealership before quitting that job to try and finish college.

Much of his free time while studying was spent watching YouTube videos regarding new cars, or off-roading. 4WD247 is a personal favorite channel which rekindled a dying flame in car enthusiasm, now tailored towards trucks and SUVs and the fun that can be had building up an overlanding rig, and going on adventures, though, that chapter remains unwritten for the time being.

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