SPAIN’S NEW HERO
Carlos Sainz Sr. is without doubt one of the
biggest names in the history of the FIA
World Rally Championship, and he’d
attained legendary status in his native
Spain long before Fernando Alonso ever
sat in a Formula 1 car.
Born in 1962, his first love was circuit
racing. Having competed in Renault 5
one-make racing, he contested the ’ 83
Formula Ford Festival at Brands Hatch,
England, as a complete unknown after
winning Spain’s Marlboro Challenge talent
search. He impressed by finishing fourth in
his heat – his first open-wheel race – before
picking up radiator damage in the next round.
Rallying then became his focus, and he
entered his first WRC events with a Ford
Sierra RS Cosworth in 1987, taking top- 10
finishes in Corsica and Britain. He moved to
Toyota in 1989, and soon began an amazing
streak that saw him win the WRC title in
1990, finish a close second to Lancia’s Juha
Kankkunen in ’ 91, and win it again in ’ 92.
THE ORIGINAL CARLOS SAINZ
He then ill-advisedly left Toyota at the end
of 1993 for the privateer Jolly Club Lancia
team, before switching to Subaru in ’ 94.
While he would never win another title, “El
Matador” remained a serious contender for
the next dozen years. He was championship
runner-up with Subaru in 1994 and ’ 95, and
again on a return to Toyota in ’ 98. He was
also third on five occasions, making a total
of 11 top-three WRC Drivers’ Championship
finishes, the last with Citroen in ’03.
In total he scored 26 WRC event
victories between 1990 and ’04, and he
ranks fourth on the all-time winners list.
He still tops the table for WRC events
contested, 196, and is third in the all-time
stage wins list with 757.
His last WRC start was the 2005
Acropolis event in Greece, but he didn’t
stop there, carrying on in raid rallies and
winning the FIA Cross-Country World Cup
in 2007, and the grueling Dakar event in
’ 10, both with Volkswagen.
Carlos Sainz Sr. was a competitive force in the World Rally Championship for almost two decades.
Sainz is still active in cross-country rallies.
He currently drives for Peugeot, but won
the 2010 Dakar Rally with VW (ABOVE).
Carlos Sainz’s WRC
career spanned 19
years and 196 rallies,
ahead of Petter
Solberg (188) and
Sebastien Loeb (169).
Carlos Sainz took the second of his two World Rally
Championship titles with Toyota in 1992. Portugal
(ABOVE) wasn’t one of his four wins that year (he was
third), but we couldn’t resist this “big air” moment.