In this world nothing can be said to be certain except death and taxes.
So said Benjamin Franklin. But perhaps he was wrong. A Dani Sordo podium in the World Rally Championship is about as certain as anything else in today’s world.
Yet another rostrum finish on last weekend’s Rally Italy means Sordo has now scored four third place finishes in his last four starts – a quite incredible achievement capped off by another fantastic performance in Sardinia, surely?
“Not fantastic, I think a normal performance. Dani Sordo was not fantastic. Fantastic would be if I finished second, no?” Sordo told DirtFish.
“But at the end I do a good job for the team, for us, for everybody. We take good points after one Toyota was in the back, the others they were all a little bit in the back, so we need to take the maximum points possible.”
This here was Dani Sordo in a nutshell. Understated, unbelievably dependable and perhaps unaware how important his contribution to his team is.
Sordo’s in a very good place in his WRC career at the moment. He has absolutely nothing to prove but everything to give, and ironically is possibly the most employable he’s ever been despite not even wanting to contest a full program.
He has no personal driver championship ambitions to aim for and therefore feels little pressure. Instead, as he puts it, his “principal target is to finish on the podium” and it’s something he’s made a habit of.
But what’s most remarkable is just how valuable Sordo is to Hyundai, despite the caliber of drivers he’s sharing a team with. Ott Tänak is a world champion, Thierry Neuville has won 15 world rallies and has been a regular WRC title contender, and Oliver Solberg has shown great promise and comes with the hype of his surname.
It would be foolish to expect Solberg to be on the same level as his two team-mates, and even Sordo, with his 17 years of WRC experience, can’t quite compete with them on raw pace either.
But what Sordo does, and all three of his team-mates haven’t been able to consistently this season, is guarantee Hyundai points for its manufacturers championship challenge. He is the ultimate wingman.
After five rounds this year, Hyundai has amassed 161 points. Neuville has secured 67 of them, Tänak has brought home 52, Sordo 34 and Solberg just eight.
But to put some more context on that, given Sordo has started just two rallies to Neuville and Tänak’s five and Solberg’s three. Here’s the average points each Hyundai driver has contributed so far this season.
|Driver||Average points scored|
It’s quite compelling evidence that Sordo’s presence in the Hyundai team is a huge benefit, particularly when you consider that when he’s not in the car, Solberg is. And Solberg’s contribution this year so far has been minimal.
It’s even led to suggestions that Hyundai should find the funds to field a fourth i20 N Rally1 for more events and Sordo can therefore keep scoring points while Solberg builds up experience in a less pressured scenario.
But of course the trade-off there is the more rallies Sordo does, likely the higher he will rise in the drivers’ championship and therefore the worse his road position will be on Fridays. That’s often proved key to his sustained podium results.
However in a difficult season where Hyundai has been kicked to the curb far more often than it would like, it at least has an insurance policy in Sordo.
If third place is what he considers a “normal” level of performance, imagine what fantastic looks like?