Sunday, July 14, 2024

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Ford signs Carlos Sainz Sr. to steer the 2025 Dakar Rally program

Sainz and double event winner Nani Roma will likely be two of 4 drivers who will represent Ford in the distinguished Dakar Rally in Saudi Arabia next yr, with the remaining line-up to be announced at a later date.

It would mark the Spanish driver's fourth season with the American automotive giant, which has competed periodically in its range of cars in a profession spanning almost 20 years within the World Rally Championship.

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It was on the wheel of a Ford Sierra RS that he made his WRC debut in 1987, before joining the works team for just a few races the next season.

He returned to Ford as a two-time WRC champion in 1996, taking three wins over the subsequent two seasons, before returning to Toyota.

Toyota's withdrawal at the tip of 1999 paved the way in which for a 3rd run from 2000-02, which brought one other two wins and a best third place within the championship.

Sainz was hired by Ford after leading Audi to its first Dakar victory in January, the culmination of a three-year factory program that was cut short attributable to what it said was a scarcity of spare parts.

For Ford, Sainz will likely be looking for a fifth Dakar win with as many manufacturers, following his 4 previous triumphs with Volkswagen, Peugeot, Mini and Audi.

“I'm very excited about the new Dakar Rally project, the opportunity to return to working with Ford for the fourth time and to return to M-Sport, to return to Malcolm [Wilson, founder of M-Sport] whom I know very well, it's really great to be back,” he said.

“My history with Ford goes back to 1987, and I believe I used to be Malcolm's first driver back then, his first factory driver, and I'm very happy with that.

“I am very excited to drive the Raptor truck and to approach this great challenge with multiple goals. One of them is helping Ford win the Dakar Rally.”

    Ford Raptor

Ford Raptor

Photo: Ford Performance

The American auto giant made the announcement on Friday afternoon, also revealing that it has begun lively testing of the 2025 Ranger Raptor.

It was already planning to construct an all-new Dakar challenger for 2025 after undertaking an explanatory tour of this yr's Dakar in a revised version of the NWM-built Ranger, piloted by Roma and South Africa's Gareth Woolridge.

Along with the announcement, Ford posted a teaser image of the brand new Raptor, showing the rear of the vehicle kicking up dust within the desert.

“The scale of our off-road racing ambitions is unmatched in recent Ford history, and nothing in that ambition is clearer than the challenge of taking the Ford Raptor to the legendary Dakar Rally,” said Mark Rushbrook, global director, Ford Performance Motorsport.

“Taking on such an enormous challenge requires the very best engineers, designers, team members, navigators and drivers, and in Nani Roma and Carlos Sainz Sr now we have two of essentially the most experienced and successful drivers within the history of the Dakar.

“The Ford Raptor is already showing promising signs in testing, and having two of the best drivers in the world on the road gives us confidence in the truck's continued development.”

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