In a move that has been eagerly anticipated by Dakar Rally enthusiasts, legendary driver Carlos Sainz has officially signed a deal to compete for Ford at the 2025 Dakar Rally. The announcement, made on Friday, sees Sainz reunite with the Blue Oval marque and M-Sport, the team that oversees Ford’s factory World Rally Championship (WRC) efforts.

    Sainz, a four-time Dakar Rally champion, is no stranger to Ford or M-Sport. He was a member of Ford’s factory WRC team in the 1990s and early 2000s, winning five rallies and securing four third-place championship finishes during his two stints with the team. The Spaniard also kicked off his WRC career with Ford in the late 1980s.

    “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.”

    Despite his recent Dakar victory with Audi in 2024, the German manufacturer’s rally-raid program was shuttered in February, forcing Sainz to seek a new challenge. He briefly returned to the Mini squad for the BP Ultimate Rally-Raid in April, where he finished fourth.

    Now, Sainz will take on the daunting Dakar Rally in a Ford Ranger T1+ prepared by M-Sport, the British motorsport outfit led by Malcolm Wilson. M-Sport expanded into rally-raid in 2022 as part of an alliance with Neil Woolridge Motorsport (NWM), and the team made its Dakar debut earlier this year, though with mixed results.

    Sainz will be joined by two-time Dakar winner Nani Roma, who will return to the M-Sport squad, and Gareth Woolridge, the 2023 South African Rally-Raid Champion. The Ford contingent is set to field a total of four Rangers in the top-level Ultimate category, with additional entries from Woolridge’s own Past-Racing team and the Czech-based MING Racing Sports outfit.

    Ford Performance’s racing director, Mark Rushbrook, expressed his enthusiasm for the challenge ahead, stating, “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.”

    With the combined experience of Sainz, Roma, and Woolridge, Ford and M-Sport are setting their sights high for the 2025 Dakar Rally, hoping to add to Sainz’s tally of five Dakar victories and secure the coveted title for the Blue Oval once again.

    🔗 Source