“El Matador” always passionate for rally

Carlos Sainz

Born 1962 in Madrid, Spain. Sainz’s WRC debut was at the 1987 Portugal Rally. From there he took part in Ford, Toyota, Lancia, Subaru, Citroën teams. He won the Drivers’ Championship in 1990 and 1992 both with Toyota. Sainz retired from WRC in 2004. He then helped Volkswagen with motorsport developments as well as the development of Polo R WR. He also joined rally raid with Volkswagen, Peugeot and BMW. His nickname was “El Matador.”

In 1990, he won the 1000 Lakes Rally, and made a great leap forward in winning the WRC Drivers Championship

Carlos Sainz started his rally career in 1980 with a Renault 5. From 1983, he took part in rally with a Renault 5 Turbo 2. In 1987, Sainz competed with Ford in a Sierra RS Cosworth in the WRC and European Rally Championship. His teammate was Didier Auriol. Sainz stayed with Ford until 1988.

The turning point in Sainz’s racing career was when he joined Toyota Team Europe (TTE) and competed in a Celica GT-Four ST165. In 1990, he won the 1000 Lakes Rally as the first non-Nordic driver to win the round. The same year, Sainz won 4 rounds in the WRC and obtained the Drivers’ Championship. The WRC at the time switched drivers who were good on gravel and tarmac, but Sainz was fast on both conditions.

In 1991, Sainz won 5 rounds but missed the Drivers’ Championship to Juha Kankkunen and ended up 2nd in the championship. 1992 was the year Celica GT-Four ST185 introduced and Sainz won his second championship title. The Celica GT-Four ST185’s development was delayed until midseason. Sainz worked hard with the team to test and adjustment of the car; winning both his home race in Catalunya and RAC which resulted in his victory in the championship. Sainz then commented, “We had nothing to lose at the very last race of the season, so I was determined to give it my all. This helped me lead the rally from the start and win.”

In 1993, Sainz left TTE to join Jolly Club, backed by Lancia in the WRC. The following year, he switched to Subaru World Rally Team and competed in an Impreza. His teammate was Colin McRae. Although Sainz won 3 rounds, he lost the championship to his former Ford teammate Didier Auriol. In 1995, Sainz’s teammate McRae won the championship title, and Sainz ended up 2nd two years in a row.

Sainz moved on to Ford in 1996. Sainz competed in a Ford Escort RS Cosworth and won the inaugural Indonesia round. In 1997, his machine changed into an Escort WR (World Rally Car) and won 2 rounds.

In 1998, Sainz moves back to TTE, and drove the new Corolla World Rally Car. He won 2 rounds but loses the championship to Tommi Makinen in a Mitsubishi. In this season at the RAC, the last race of the season, Makinen who had been fighting for the championship retired at the start of the race. Sainz who was racing first could have won the title, but unfortunately, he ended up retiring due to engine troubles. In 1999, Sainz raced with Toyota, and in 2000 he changed back to Ford once again. Until 2002, Sainz stayed with Ford in the WRC. In 2003 he changed his team to Citroën, then won the 2004 Rally Argentina. This turns out to be Sainz’s last WRC win.

Sainz winning the 2000 Cyrus Rally in a Ford Focus WRC

After retiring from the WRC, Sainz joined rally raid. From 2006 to 2011 he competed in a Volkswagen Touareg, from 2015 to 2018 in a Peugeot 3008DKR, and in 2019 in a MINI JCW Buggy at the Dakar Rally. Of those years, Sainz won in 2018 and 2020. Even now, Sainz hasn’t stopped his physical training. His son, Carlos Sainz Jr. is racing in Formula One for McLaren.

Sainz won the JCW X-raid mini at the 2020 Dakar Rally

Carlos Sainz WRC Record of victory

Times Year Event Co-driver Car
1 1990 Acropolis Rally Luis Moya Toyota Celica GT-FOUR ST165
2 1990 Rally New Zealand Luis Moya Toyota Celica GT-FOUR ST165
3 1990 1000 Lakes Rally Luis Moya Toyota Celica GT-FOUR ST165
4 1990 RAC Rally Luis Moya Toyota Celica GT-FOUR ST165
5 1991 Rally Monte-Carlo Luis Moya Toyota Celica GT-FOUR ST165
6 1991 Rallye de Portugal Luis Moya Toyota Celica GT-FOUR ST165
7 1991 Tour de Corse Luis Moya Toyota Celica GT-FOUR ST165
8 1991 Rally New Zealand Luis Moya Toyota Celica GT-FOUR ST165
9 1991 Rally Argentina Luis Moya Toyota Celica GT-FOUR ST165
10 1992 Safari Rally Luis Moya Toyota Celica GT-FOUR ST185
11 1992 Rally New Zealand Luis Moya Toyota Celica GT-FOUR ST185
12 1992 Rallye Catalunya Luis Moya Toyota Celica GT-FOUR ST185
13 1992 RAC Rally Luis Moya Toyota Celica GT-FOUR ST185
14 1994 Rallye de Portugal Luis Moya Subaru Impreza 555
15 1995 Rally Monte-Carlo Luis Moya Subaru Impreza 555
16 1995 Rallye de Portugal Luis Moya Subaru Impreza 555
17 1995 Rallye Catalunya Luis Moya Subaru Impreza 555
18 1996 Rally Indonesia Luis Moya Ford Escort RS Cosworth
19 1997 Acropolis Rally Luis Moya Ford Escort WRC 97
20 1997 Rally of Indonesia Luis Moya Ford Escort WRC 97
21 1998 Rally Monte-Carlo Luis Moya Toyota Corolla WRC
22 1998 Rally New Zealand Luis Moya Toyota Corolla WRC
23 2000 Cyprus Rally Luis Moya Ford Focus RS WRC 2000
24 2002 Rally Argentina Luis Moya Ford Focus RS WRC 02
25 2003 Rally of Turkey Marc Martí Citroën Xsara WRC
26 2004 Rally Argentina Marc Martí Citroën Xsara WRC

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