Ford has confirmed it will enter two South African-built Rangers in the 2014 Dakar that will run from January 5-18 in South America.The design team responsible for bringing Ford’s Dakar contender to fruition includes a mix of South African and global minds. The driver line-up is made up of international and local contenders, among them South American Lucio Alvarez and South African Chris Visser.'ULTIMATE TEST OF MAN AND MACHINE'Jeff Nemeth, president and CEO of Ford Southern Africa, told Wheels24: "We're extremely proud to be sending these South African-built Rangers to the 2014 Dakar, the ultimate test of man and machine, and we are thrilled to have the opportunity to participate with a phenomenal team comprised of local and global expertise."More than a billion TV viewers from around the globe tuned in to watch the 2013 Dakar with 4.6-million spectators making their way to South America to witness the event.Dave Schoch, group vice-president and president of Ford Asia Pacific, said: "The Dakar is a truly international showcase of off-road vehicles. We're pleased to have put together a global team that has exceptional knowledge of the event - as well as being capable of performing extremely well racing the Ford Ranger, which is assembled at our plant in Silverton, Pretoria.”The newly designed Rangers were built in Pietermaritzburg with assistance from Ford’s Global Product Development group. Every aspect of the bakkies, Ford says, has been carefully considered and built with precision and performance in mind.Team manager Neil Woolridge said: "A complex jigging system was used in the manufacturing process to make sure each part was built as per the design to achieve the perfect fit on every vehicle. Although the two new Rangers are locally built we received tremendous support from our global counterparts, among them Ford’s SVT division."One bakkie is already prepared and the automaker will start testing in August. The second will be completed by the end of October 2013. THE DRIVERSLucio Alvarez and Ronnie Graue have been confirmed as the first driver crew. They are part of the younger generation of drivers and have delivered impressive results on previous Dakars. The pair finished 17th overall in their first outing in 2011 but fifth in 2012 and were running third overall in 2013 until mechanical problems dropped them to 27th.They demonstrated their determination and ability by fighting their way back up to 10th at the finish.Chris Visser and navigator Japie Badenhorst will crew the second Ranger. The pair won the 2011 South African Cross-Country championship and are among the leaders in the 2013 series. The 2014 rally will be their first Dakar.35TH DAKAR RALLYThe 2014 Dakar Rally will be the 35th overall and the sixth since the race pulled out of north-west Africa. It will start in Rosario, Argentina, on January 5 and finish in Valparaiso, Chile on January 18 after 13 stages and more than 8500km.The 2014 Dakar will continue its exploration of the Andes by incorporating, for the first time, a visit to Bolivia.Ford fans will be able to keep track of the team’s progress in the lead up to the event and follow the teams’ progress on Ford SA's Facebook, Twitter. You can join the conversation by using #FordDakar.Wheels24 will, of course, be covering the wider general happenings of this awesome event by bringing you daily updates from our international correspondents on our dedicated Dakar Rally section.