PUT TO THE TEST
THE Raptor prototypes are subjected to an incredible amount of testing at this facility. The two prototypes are split between dynamics testing (suspension, transmission and powertrain calibration) and desert endurance testing, which we experience on our second day. Simon elaborates: “This week we’ve been running a desert endurance test, where we subject the vehicle to 1600km at race pace in extreme off-road driving conditions. The desert endurance gives us confidence that we have built ‘Ford Tough’ for this truck so that a customer can go out and play – and with confidence he’s not going to go out and break the vehicle.”
The test drivers are put through Ford’s stringent test driver training program.
“To be able to do this, we’ve got four tiers of driving skill in the company. Tier 1 is basic – around a track at a reasonable speed,” Simon said. “Tier 2 you’ve got the defensive driving skills and a bit of off
roading, and that’s all that management – like me – are
allowed to go to. Tier 3 is where you’ve got more high speed and control of vehicle in skids, which a lot of us can, but you do it at a level that you can only maintain if you keep up the driving every week.
“Tier 4 is another level above that again. Now these guys, then, to be able to do what they need to do, have to go on an off-road handling course that is another level above Tier 4. So yeah, the five guys that are driving around at the minute are the only ones in Australia that are allowed to do the high speeds.”