Was his heroic defeat of Sébastien Ogier in the battle for third on Rally Spain the start of the Dani Sordo farewell tour?
Announced prior to his home round as staying with Hyundai for another part-time World Rally Championship program for the start of the series’ new hybrid era in 2022, Sordo then suggested to Spanish newspaper AS mid-week that his next deal would be his last in the WRC.
He was quoted as saying “next year will be my last season” in a reply to a question about how long his “batteries will last” given 2022 will be his 17th campaign.
That seemed pretty clear-cut, but Sordo was more equivocal when DirtFish put the retirement question to him after the Spain finish.
“I don’t know,” Sordo replied. “I said maybe I won’t do more. Let’s see.
“For sure I am in a good time but sometimes you need to take decisions. You never know.”
His choice of words and facial expressions were not the furious ones of a driver rejecting false news about his future or dismissing a misquote.
Neither was he giving off the knowing winks of someone whose mind is made up but just won’t say so explicitly yet.
He may well be heading into 2022 expecting it to be his WRC farewell, yet open-minded about the possibility of sticking around should he really enjoy the Rally1 cars.
Hyundai has always been comfortable with a greater degree of in-season driver rotation than its rivals – Sordo has never actually had a full calendar since joining the team in 2014, always being benched for – or forced out of – at least one rally even before his more limited programs began in 2018.
Despite now being 38 years old and having made his top-class WRC debut way back in 2006, Sordo is – if anything – in the best form of his life with two of his three wins having come in the last three seasons.
He is always a major asset to Hyundai’s manufacturers’ championship hopes and it will be in no hurry to lose him.
Conversely, if Oliver Solberg is Hyundai’s future then he needs to be doing a full-season in its Rally1 car as soon as possible so he gets the experience required for title bids.
If Rally Spain was to be one of Sordo’s last in the world championship though he can certainly be proud of it – particularly the final day where he won all four stages to fend off Sébastien Ogier for third place.
“I don’t know if it’s the best [day] of my career – there have been other nice days! – but I can tell you I’m so happy with this day today,” he said.
“To have the big fight with Ogier and afterwards to get the third place. For me, this fight is something amazing.”