There are rallies in this world where it’s simply foolhardy to bet against the locals. No matter how good the competition may be, there’s that one driver who is simply considered too good to beat in a given locale – unless misfortune befalls them, of course.
It’s difficult to put together a sustained run of consecutive wins on the same rally over several years, though. Reliability troubles, mistakes creeping in, missing a year due to a scheduling conflict or lack of budget – there’s plenty that can bring a long-running victory streak to an end.
For Jan Kopecký, it might be the last of those. The 2018 WRC2 champion doesn’t have a program sorted for next year despite clocking his seventh Barum Czech Rally Zlín victory on the bounce – and 10th in total.
But he’s not the only one that holds an enviable streak of consecutive wins in one place. With the help of the eWRC-results database, we’ve compiled the list of the longest ever win streaks at a single event in both the World Rally Championship and the major continental series.
Six consecutive WRC wins on Monte Carlo Rally – 2014-2019
He might be tied with Sébastien Loeb on overall Monte Carlo wins but Ogier has one stat that sets him apart in the principality – the most consecutive Monte wins, with six. It could be argued that Loeb didn’t get his chance due to the event’s three-year sojourn with the IRC, of course, but stats never lie, do they?
What Ogier did manage was to carry off the record with three different marques.
That he dominated his favorite rally with the all-conquering Volkswagen Polo R WRC is hardly surprising. But getting from three wins in a row to six proved much more difficult.
Thierry Neuville dominated in 2017, only to chuck his Hyundai into the scenery and break the left-rear suspension, handing what had looked a certain win to the incumbent winner. The second win with M-Sport, though, was dominant.
Ogier capped off his sixth consecutive Monte win in style, hustling the difficult Citroën C3 to a 2.2 seconds win over Neuville, despite a dodgy throttle on the final day.
Six consecutive ERC wins on Rali Vidreiro (formerly Rallye Rota do Sol) – 1996-2001
Three-time Portuguese champion Adruzilio Lopes was at the height of his powers in the late 1990s, having been entrusted by Peugeot to represent it in his national championship.
That meant four seasons with a works-supported 306 Maxi followed by two with the 206 WRC – and it’s with both of those cars that he went on his winning streak on Rota do Sol in Central Portugal, then a round of the European Rally Championship.
Only once did anyone get within a minute of him during that hot streak – his new-for-2001 team-mate Miguel Campos in the sister 206 WRC finished 16.3s behind that year.
In the end Lopes didn’t get a chance to make it seven – he was dropped from the importer-backed Peugeot team, leaving Campos to win in 2002 as the lone Peugeot.
Franz Wittmann Sr.
Six consecutive ERC wins on Jänner Rallye – 1979-1984
Austrian rallying legend Franz Wittmann Sr won his national championship 11 times, with the first and last titles coming an incredible 25 years apart.
Though he was a WRC regular in the 1980s it’s unsurprisingly an Austrian event that gets him onto this list – the traditional curtain-raiser of European rallying, the Jänner Rallye.
He is far and away the most successful driver on the snowy and icy asphalt event with 10 victories – the last of which came in 2003, 28 years after the first!
But his six-in-a-row streak began in 1979 at the wheel of a Porsche 911, followed by a switch to Audi that brought the next five – the first with the 80 GLE, then four on the bounce with the Quattro.
Seven consecutive ERC wins on Barum Rally Zlín – 2015-2022
Much like Ogier in Monte Carlo in 2017, sometimes you need a little luck on your side to keep a run of consecutive wins going. Then again, there’s something about certain drivers on certain events – they have that magic dust to make miracles happen when all seems lost.
Two punctures on the opening day in 2018 looked to have given Alexey Lukyanuk the head start he needed to end Kopecký’s streak at three, only for the 2013 ERC champion to catch him with two stages remaining.
Come 2021 and it really did look like game over at five in a row, only for Erik Cais to throw away a 20s lead on the final stage by skating wide on Zlín’s treacherously wet asphalt and crash.
Kopecký’s comfortable win this year keeps the ball rolling at seven. If he turns up with a Škoda Fabia again next year, you’d be foolish to bet against number eight.
Eight consecutive WRC wins on Rally Spain – 2005-2012
Eight consecutive WRC wins on Rally Germany – 2002-2010
Rallying’s most successful driver can win on any surface, anywhere, anytime. But his roots on French asphalt probably helped him in being especially dominant on sealed surfaces; in his title-winning prime he couldn’t be stopped from winning in either Spain or Germany.
Others certainly tried, and some came very, very close: Citroën team-mate Dani Sordo pushed him all the way on his home event in 2009, with the lead changing hands multiple times before a final-loop push from Loeb sealed the win. Sordo had kept him honest in 2007, too.
His streak in Spain was ended by retirement from full-time rallying – but his run of consecutive wins in Germany was ended by Ogier, who beat him in a straight fight in 2011 in his first full year with the senior team.
10 consecutive MERC wins on Rally Lebanon (2003-2013)
Lebanese rallying has been dominated by one driver for the last two-and-a-bit decades: Roger Feghali.
While he hasn’t won any titles at continental level, he’s topped his national series seven times and Rally Lebanon, his home round of the Middle East Rally Championship, a whopping 15 times. Somehow, he was able to string 10 of those 15 wins together consecutively.
Two drivers have dominated rallying in the Middle East in the last four decades: reigning MERC title holder Nasser Al-Attiyah and current FIA president Mohammed Ben Sulayem. But whenever MERC rolls into town, Feghali has usually been an unstoppable force.
Better still, his younger brother Abdo has finished as runner-up on the same event on several occasions, though hasn’t strung consecutive podiums together in quite the same way as Roger has wins.
Roger’s first Rally Lebanon win was 22 years ago. He’s still the man to beat. And in a week’s time, he may well have registered win number 16.
10 consecutive MERC wins on Rally Jordan (2012-2022)
Nine consecutive MERC wins on Rally Qatar (2003-2011)
Eight consecutive MERC wins on Rally Dubai (2007-2014)
Eight consecutive MERC wins on Rally Troodos (2003-2011)
In the Middle East, Nasser Al-Attiyah has won everything there is to win. And he’s won it over and over again. And again. And then some more.
He’s currently on a run of 11 consecutive MERC titles and on currently on target to make it 12. He’s also one of the rare few drivers to beat Feghali on his home turf in Lebanon.
It’s no surprise that elsewhere in his part of the world where there are no local equivalents to Feghali that he’s awfully difficult to stop.
What’s more impressive about Al-Attiyah’s dominance is not just that he’s gone on a rampant run of consecutive wins in his home country, Qatar, as many other drivers on this list have done.
The now-defunct Rally Troodos was a staple of Cypriot rallying in the 2000s but he regularly beat the locals with ease, while since the WRC’s departure from Jordan he’s been able to call the event his own.
And that 10-in-a-row streak in Jordan remains in play, with the possibility to make it 11 next year and tie with the current record holder for most consecutive wins elsewhere…
Mohammed Ben Sulayem
11 consecutive MERC wins on Rally Dubai (1991-2002)
How apt it is that the person currently in charge of world motorsport as FIA president also sits atop this list?
While Ben Sulayem had his consecutive MERC titles record (seven) shattered by Al-Attiyah in 2018, he still holds the crown for most consecutive wins on an FIA rally anywhere in the world.
It no doubt helped that Ben Sulayem always had top-tier equipment at his disposal. But in Dubai he was beaten on pace alone by only one driver: 1979 world champion Björn Waldegård, who had also turned up in a Toyota Celica GT-Four back in 1989.
He also lost the win to a five-minute penalty in 1984 and a broken turbo in 1990. Other than those three years, he won every time he turned up. Every single time. In the space of 18 years, he won 15 times – 11 of them being scored in a row.
That streak ended in 2002 not because he was beaten but because he retired from rallying.
If Al-Attiyah is beaten on the next edition of Rally Jordan, then we’ll be waiting a very long time for anyone to beat Ben Sulayem’s record