Carlos Sainz is officially the greatest rally driver of all time. The World Rally Championship’s own website said so.
The question nobody has asked, until now, is who does the greatest think the greatest might have been? Who would Sainz have voted for himself?
DirtFish asked the two-time world champion.
“It’s difficult to say…” said Sainz. “I’m going to keep it a secret and not tell you. But definitely one of the two Sébs [Loeb and Ogier], they were great champions in different times. You can’t compare both Sébs – they only had part their careers together, but also there are other champions who were in a completely different period of time.
“Both Sébastiens deserve to be the winners [of the WRC’s GOAT vote] and maybe others. At the end of the day, somebody has to win. I don’t know how they vote or why they vote [for me]. They probably deserve it more than me, but I can only say thank you to the ones who did vote for me.”
Sainz’s progression through the competition was impressive, with him defeating four-time champion Tommi Mäkinen as well as a pair of Frenchmen with 15 titles between them. But the 58-year-old feels fans looked past the silverware and size of trophy cabinets when casting their votes.
The Madrid star was the first non-Nordic to crack the 1000 Lakes Rally and was widely regarded as the most complete driver of his generation.
“I think,” he added, “people voted not only on the numbers [of titles] but on other things. I could have had more championships, but also one thing is sure that I made my contribution to changing the way rally drivers have to think and be.
“When I came to the championship it was the time when it was only specialists and I wanted to change that and I somehow managed that, being the first to be competitive on rallies like Finland, RAC, Safari, Corsica, Monte Carlo – completely different rallies and surfaces. I think the champions after that were following that and the perception of the manufacturers was that they need to get the people and the champions being able to win in any surface.”
No arguments there.