Carlos Sainz Sr makes a return to Ford for 2025 Dakar

Carlos Sainz Sr makes a return to Ford for 2025 Dakar

Four-time Dakar Rally winner Carlos Sainz Sr has been confirmed for a sensational return to Ford, joined by countryman Nani Roma.

Carlos Sainz Sr and double event winner Nani Roma will be two of the four drivers who will be racing for Ford in the iconic Dakar event in Saudi Arabia next year with the remaining drivers set to be revealed at a later time.

The Spaniard, who participated in the World Rally Championship for over 20 years, will be working with the American automaker for the fourth time after having previously raced in a variety of its cars periodically. He made his WRC debut in 1987 driving a Ford Sierra RS – winning the first ever World Rally Championship stage he tackled at Rally de Portugal – and the following year he joined the factory squad for a few races.

In 1996, he made his return to Ford as a two-time WRC champion and over the next two seasons, he won three races before returning to Toyota. Following Toyota’s exit from the championship at the conclusion of 1999 handed Sainz a Ford return for his third stint from 2000 to 2002, during which time they achieved two more victories and a highest performance of third.

Now Ford has hired Sainz after he led Audi to its maiden victory at Dakar in January. That victory marked the end of a three-year production program that was discontinued because of an alleged shortage of spare parts.

Having won four Dakar races with Volkswagen, Peugeot, Mini, and Audi, Sainz will be going for his fifth victory with Ford. Talking about his return to Ford Performance, the two time world champion said: “I’m very excited by this new Dakar project.

“To go back to working with Ford for the fourth time, and to return to M-Sport, to return to Malcolm [Wilson, M-Sport managing director] who I know very well, it’s really great to be back.

“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. 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 [goal] is to help Ford win the Dakar.”

M-Sport director and Dakar team manager Matthew Wilson admitted Sainz’s return has delivered further confidence to the team testing and developing the Raptor.

“Carlos is a legend of our sport and one of the most successful drivers across all formats of off-road racing,” he said. “His decision to return to Ford and M-Sport after so many years is a huge boost for the team.

“It’s great to have him back in the extended Ford family ready to take on the huge challenge Dakar presents.

“With testing well under way, we have a great chance now to learn from the best and push the development of the Ford Raptor forward even further.”

Similar to Sainz, Roma has won two Dakar races in his career, making him a multiple winner. He extends his contract with Ford Performance after running in this year’s race with a T1+ Ranger designed and run jointly by Ford, M-Sport, and Neil Woolridge Motorsport.

“It’s a great pleasure to be involved in this huge project, and with an iconic motorsport brand like Ford,” Roma said. “Coupled with a team like M-Sport, with its history and legacy in the sport, to create something completely new, I can say it’s been a very exciting few months already.

“The next Dakar is not far [away], so now it’s time to work really hard. Alex [Haro, co-driver] and I are so happy to be surrounded by super-dedicated and talented engineers, mechanics and the wider team.

“We get to wake up every day and do what we love with people that have the same passion – it’s the best feeling.”

On retaining Roma, Wilson added: “It is such a pleasure to welcome Nani back to the team after a great run this year in the Ranger T1+ in Dakar.

“His experience and knowledge were invaluable to us and I’m sure we will continue to learn from him as this exciting program moves forwards.”

The Raptor started testing last month, and it will probably enter a handful of off-road races in order to get ready for the Dakar next year. The Rallye du Maroc in October, which is the World Rally-Raid Championship finals, is currently regarded as the preclude for the Saudi race in January.

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