Could Sainz be heading for a third term at M-Sport?

The Dakar winner has a fabulous history with M-Sport. And now he needs a seat. See where we’re going with this…

DAKAR 2024 – STAGE 5

It’s the end of 1995 again. Or maybe late 1999. The date might have changed, the whispers haven’t: “Carlos Sainz to M-Sport…”

It would be a fantastic story. Could it happen? The man himself saw the question coming a mile away and batted it off with the smile of a man who’d just won his fourth Dakar and preferred to talk about that instead.

“Let me enjoy this one, first…” was the response to the obvious enquiry about a third spell with the British team.


Sainz won his fourth Dakar on Friday, but is without a drive for next year

What about M-Sport? What about a return of the Wilson-Sainz alliance?

Team manager of M-Sport’s Dakar program Matthew Wilson knows he’s not going to be able to dodge this one quite so easily.

“I think it’s phenomenal [what Sainz has achieved],” said Wilson. “He’s 61 years old, and he’s fitter and stronger than ever. To have that motivation and determination at that age is brilliant. What better way to send a message saying: “I’m happy to carry on” than to go and win Dakar?”

While the Spaniard’s age had led to some in the bivouac questioning his competitiveness prior to this year’s event, Sainz proved the doubters wrong with a stunning display of speed, strategy and resilience over the 14 brutal Saudi Arabian stages. And for Wilson, the double-World Rally Champion’s age would not put him off pursuing a future deal with Sainz.

Carlos Sainz Story

Sainz first drove for M-Sport in the 1997 WRC

“Definitely not,” said Wilson. “His ability and his professionalism is great, and one thing with Carlos is that if he knew that he wasn’t able to do this job, he would stop. So, if he feels comfortable to carry on, then why not?”

Sainz drove an M-Sport Ford in 1997 (having driven for Ford itself in 1996) and then from 2000 until 2002, when he partnered Colin McRae to reassemble one of the most potent driver line-ups in WRC history. Wilson recognises the fairytale element.

He added: “The first time Carlos came to M-Sport was in 1997, when I was 10. He finished third on his debut with us on the Monte, and from that point on I know he’s always had a lot of respect for M-Sport, and for [Malcolm]. So yeah, if we were to work with him again, it would be fantastic. He’s the ultimate professional.”