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Carlos Sainz joins Ford M-Sport for 2025 Dakar Rally

After months of speculation, Carlos Sainz is officially back with the Blue Oval. On Friday, Ford Performance and M-Sport announced he will drive the Ford Ranger T1+ at the 2025 Dakar Rally in hopes of his fifth win and second in a row.

Sainz is no stranger to Ford or M-Sport. He was a member of Ford’s factory World Rally Championship team in 1996/97 and from 2000 to 2002, and had started his WRC career with the marque in the late 1980s. He won five rallies in a Ford with four third-place points finishes during his two stints with the team.

Ford will be the seventh different manufacturer that Sainz races for at Dakar after Volkswagen, Demon Jefferies, SMG, Peugeot, Mini, and Audi. Despite winning the 2024 edition for Audi, the team shut down in February due to not having enough parts to contest the World Rally-Raid Championship. This forced Sainz to abandon his plans of competing for the title, and he rejoined Mini for the BP Ultimate Rally-Raid in April where he placed fourth. A move to Ford has long been reported before being confirmed Friday.

Led by Malcolm Wilson, M-Sport currently oversees Ford’s factory WRC effort, and added a rally raid arm in 2022 as part of an alliance with Neil Woolridge Motorsport. Two-time Dakar winner Nani Roma and 2023 South African Rally-Raid Champion Gareth Woolridge débuted the team at that year’s Baja España Aragón, respectively finishing sixth and eleventh overall, followed by the W2RC’s Rallye du Maroc, where Roma finished third.

The programme’s maiden Dakar in January was upended by both drivers retiring from Stage #7, relegating Roma to a forty-fourth and Woolridge to forty-sixth in the final order. Roma’s best stage finish was a ninth on the penultimate day while Woolridge notched a seventh a leg later.

“I’m very excited by this new Dakar Rally project, to go back to working with Ford for the fourth time, and to return to M-Sport, to return to Malcolm who I know very well, it’s really great to be back,” said Sainz. “My history with Ford goes all the way back to ’87, and I think I was Malcolm’s first driver, his first ever factory driver, back in the day, and I’m very proud of that. I’m really excited to be driving the Raptor truck, and to approach this big challenge with a lot of goals. One is to help Ford win the Dakar Rally.”

NWM is no longer involved with M-Sport, having designed their own Ford Ranger T1+ for the SARRC that differs from M-Sport’s upcoming model. On the other hand, Roma will rejoin the team for 2025; he and Sainz comprise two of four Rangers that Ford intends to field in the race. Other Fords planning to compete at Dakar 2025 in the top-level Ultimate category include Woolridge client Past-Racing and Czech team MING Racing Sports, the latter fielding a Ford F-150 EVO T1+.

“The scale of our ambitions in off-road racing are unparalleled in Ford’s recent history and nothing is more clear in that ambition than our challenge to take the Ford Raptor to the legendary Dakar Rally,” added Ford Performance racing director Mark Rushbrook. “Taking on such an enormous challenge requires the best engineers, designers, team members, navigators and drivers, and in Nani Roma and Carlos Sainz Sr., we have two of the most experienced and successful drivers in Dakar history. The Ford Raptor is already showing promising signs in testing and having two of the best drivers in the world with us for the ride gives us confidence for the continued development of the truck.”


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