Carlos Sainz must hope 2020 never ends. It must be said that he started it in the best possible way, declaring that he was committing himself, with Lucas Cruz, to taking a third Dakar crown.
And he showed it by winning in fine style with four stage victories. With this success, he is now tied for third in wins in the car category with Metge, Lartigue and Al-Attiyah and only surpassed by Vatanen with four and Peterhansel with seven titles.
This resounding triumph, at the age of 57, undoubtedly had something to do with him receiving the Princess of Asturias 2020 Sports Prize last October. A more than deserved distinction for a driver who is a true legend in international motor sport.
Born in Madrid, this boy with dreams of glory, won his first Spanish squash championship title at the age of 16. With an obsession for detail and a professionalism that his rivals recognised, he won the 1990 and 1992 World Rally Championship titles, taking 26 victories in his glorious career.
While Sébastien Loeb is the undisputed king of the category with 9 titles and 79 victories, a poll carried out last May by wrc.com established Sainz as the best driver in history with 57.28% of the votes! The “Matador” began his Dakar career in 2006 and four years later, in 2010, he won with a Volkswagen Touareg in the second South American raid.
In 2018, he won again, this time in a Peugeot 3008 DKR, and in 2020, he took his third victory with a third different make, still with highly touted co-driver Lucas Cruz by his side. For 2021, the German X-Raid team is still among the favourites with the duos of Sainz and Cruz and Peterhansel and Boulanger to go for yet another win.
In addition to private testing, Sainz and Cruz finished second on the Andalucía Rally, on what was a difficult terrain for the MINI. Not only did they regain a taste for competition, but they also managed to adjust certain elements of the MINI Buggy, such as the suspension.
Confident in this and other improvements, Sainz will be looking to win again, with his thirst for victory that must be quenched. As he said in his acceptance speech for the Princess of Asturias award: “I encourage you to pursue your dreams with confidence”. Carlos Sainz will be the perfect example when he sets off in search of a fourth Dakar at the age of 58.
C.S.: “I can’t wait to compete again with X-raid on the next Dakar. Of course, I will try to defend my 2020 victory. Now that time has passed, I have to say it is one of the victories I am most proud of. The next Dakar will undoubtedly be another great event – and after this first year of experience in Saudi Arabia- it will probably be even better. As far as the JCW Mini Buggy is concerned, even in these difficult times, we have been able to make improvements in certain areas. The team has done an excellent job and I think we are even stronger”.
L.C.: “At the Andalucía Rally, after a long time of inactivity, we thought it would be difficult for us to get into the rhythm of the race, but I think we were all in the same situation. Not being able to test or race is a bit lacking at the end of the year, but generally we were happy with our position, knowing that this was not the race for our car. The race allowed us to see some things that were difficult to detect in testing concerning the suspensions, which are fundamental for good performance and the efficiency of the car. Overall, we are satisfied with the result.
The keys to the Dakar will always be the same: to do better than our rivals and not stumble. We will see what Mr Castera has in store for us and what we will find on the new rally-route that he will propose for this 2021 edition.”
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