I've been tempted in similar ways. It'd be a good ride for a "fun" effort. Not real competitive usually. I'd want some suspension travel if I were to do it, and I'd go 2wd I think. I'm not familiar with the class rules for "performance stock".
I know as a course car, a full size truck or sport Ute can often put down mid pack stage times overall, even without notes and driven "brisk" instead of fast.
As far as being competitive vs a car...in general I agree.
But if driven well..I think one could do ok.
One of my 2013 CRS rally school instructors,John Black, campaigns a 4 cylinder ranger in the same class as I am thinking about, and has done pretty well.
Not sure if he is still racing,but his 2015 and older results linked below
Usually 1st or 2nd in class, and some overall positions not bad either.
Finishes to retirement ratio not too bad either-right?
Not sure what year that Ranger is,but the pics show it's clearly a 2nd gen so that would be the awesomely durable twin I beam suspension, and the engine would be the lump known as the 2.3 lima(pinto),which depending on the 2nd gen year,would have started off with a either a whopping 98hp or a tire shredding 112hp.
Not sure if he has modded the engine,but "Internals" and tuning are free,everything else has to be stock,including manifolds-although they can be modified.
Curious what his final drive ratio is...
Also not sure if he has Increased travel at all.
Can't lengthen or bend beams or arms(or radius arms) in that class,but a taller coil and a longer shock within reason could gain a bit.
I'm looking at the newer 3rd gen 2.3 Duratec ranger for a few reasons.
3rd gens regular cab models received a 3" longer cab which gave a little more room in the interior.
And with a cage and my size(6'5" 300LBS now-but aiming for 265 "race weight"LOL) I'll need all the room I can get.
I looked at the extra cabs,but with the hundreds of extra LBS added, and especially the wheelbase going from a nice,rally appropriate 111 1/2" for the regular cab/6 ft bed to the silly Extended cab/6ft bed wheelbase of 126",that's just a hard pass for me.
Maybe if was a desert racing truck sure,but I'm already running a truck instead of a car,I need to watch the weight and don't want a super long wheelbase like that for rally.
Another reason is the lighter more modern duratec engine that weighs less than the lima and starts stock with 144 hp.
I've owned a few of these in Foci and Mazda's and they respond well to simple mods.
But I would have the later ranger/explorer A-Arm suspension instead of the I beams,so while I could play with bump vs droop, I can't really add travel.
Not as durable for sure as The I beams,but at least on paper-better handling- as they maintain much better camber and toe throughout the travel.
I worry about the ball joint strength on them a bit though.
Perhaps i can find an upgraded ball joint.
The arm has to be the stock arm.
Arm can be modded(not for length though),so I suppose would check with scrutineer to see if modding to fit an upgraded ball joint(if necessary)is doable.
Anyway-just looking at craigslist for now.
Been quite a few 2004 and up(better exhaust and intake manifolds starting that year)lately in the $2k to $4k range.
Between jobs right now(studio driver),but as soon as I get working again I'm picking one up.