Sainz getting closer to Ford W2RC deal

Two-time world champion Carlos Sainz says a deal with M-Sport Ford could be done within a month


Carlos Sainz is closing on an agreement with Ford to join the Blue Oval’s Dakar program later this season.

The Spaniard, who secured his fourth Dakar success earlier this year, is a free agent following Audi’s decision to quit its off-road effort with the RS Q e-tron. He returns to the X-Raid team for this week’s Rally-Raid Portugal, driving the Mini JCW Rally Plus with the aim of acquainting himself with T1+, the category Ford’s all-new M-Sport-prepared Ranger will run in.

“There was a chance to do Portugal,” Sainz told DirtFish, “so, why not? It will give me fresh input from a T1+ and, finally, if I am going to join Ford it will bring good info to know another car before jumping in the Ford.

“I think we are getting closer with Ford and we have deep discussions now. I think, I hope, we can close the deal soon.”

Asked where he put the odds on him returning to an official Ford rally car for a fourth time in his career, Sainz replied: “More than 50-50, for sure. Much. First we need to finalize the deal, which I hope is in the next month, then as soon as the car is ready, we would start testing.”

Rally Argentina 2002

Argentina 2002 was the last of Sainz's five WRC wins in Ford machinery

Sainz’s first competitive outing in the Ranger would likely be in October’s Morocco Rally – an event seen as the traditional warm-up for the following season’s Dakar.

Sainz does, of course, lead the W2RC standings into this week’s third round in Portugal. He was, however, quick to pour cold water on suggestions that he could be chasing a third FIA world title in 2024.

“I won’t do Argentina,” he said, “so it would be difficult. Basically, I think I would have to win here in Portugal and win, if we go, in Morocco and then see [what his competitors are doing].”