CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Michelin North America Inc. has agreed to support a new racing series, the Mustang Challenge, for Ford Motor Co.'s production-based "Mustang Dark Horse R" model when it debuts next year.
The Mustang Challenge series will start in 2024, running a 10- to 12-race calendar under the auspices of the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) and in conjunction with a mix of five to six yet-to-be-announced North American sports-car race weekends.
All cars will compete on 19-inch racing slicks developed for Mustang Challenge by Michelin, the designated race tire supplier for most of IMSA's classes.
The Mustang Dark Horse R is powered by Ford's fourth-generation 5-liter Coyote V8, an engine that also will be used in two other racing derivatives of the Mustang, the GT3 and GT4, for international road-racing.
"Mustang Dark Horse R bridges the gap between Dark Horse and Mustang GT3 and GT4," Mark Rushbrook, global director, Ford Performance Motorsports, said.
"Production-based Mustang vehicles have raced from the very beginning, all the way back to winning the 1964 Tour de France, even. Dark Horse R offers our passionate customers not just an attainable, factory-built race car, but also a racing series to compete with other Mustang enthusiasts."
The Dark Horse R is designed for track use only, but also shares several components with the road-going version, including a 500-plus horsepower 5-liter V8 engine, Tremec 3160 manual transmission, Torsen limited slip differential with 3.73 final drive ratio, Brembo rear brake calipers/rotors and R1 flow-formed wheels (19 x 10.5 inch front, 19 x 11 inch rear).
"Mustang Dark Horse R has been developed with Mustang racing enthusiasts top of mind," Jim Owens, Ford Mustang Marketing manager, said.
"Ford Performance leaned into countless areas of expertise developed through years of racing the Mustang and honed in on an aggressive yet approachable package for customers to pick up and play with."
Each round of the IMSA-sanctioned series will consists of two practice sessions, one qualifying session and two sprint races, all managed by the Ford Performance Racing School. IMSA will offer contingency payouts to top finishers in each race, as well as an overall series champion at the end of the season.
Pricing for Mustang Dark Horse R starts at $145,000. Deliveries will begin in preparation for the start of the Mustang Challenge season in 2024.