Esapekka Lappi set a new personal record for himself on the recent Rally Italy Sardinia by scoring his third consecutive World Rally Championship podium.
In this regard, the last 12 months have been incredibly prosperous for the Finn who netted his first back-to-back podiums in Finland and Ypres last season when he was a Toyota.
Now a full-timer at Hyundai, Lappi took third place in both Croatia and Portugal before finishing second in Sardinia to extend his streak to three. On current form, what’s to say he can’t extend it even further next time out on Safari Rally Kenya?
Lappi’s new personal best compares well to some of his current Rally1 rivals – both Elfyn Evans and reigning world champion Kalle Rovanperä’s best podium runs are also three in succession.
But in the context of the WRC’s over-50-year history, Lappi’s impressive effort isn’t quite enough to make the top 10.
You already know where this is going, don’t you. So without further ado, here are the top 10 podium streaks in WRC history:
8= Dani Sordo
5 consecutive podiums
Ironically one of five drivers to bag five WRC podiums in a row, Dani Sordo is a podium machine with an impressive 29.6% hit rate for finishing in the top three.
Back in his Citroën days, the Spaniard scored four podiums in a row from Rally Spain to Ireland 2007, but 14 years later he went one better with five on the bounce for Hyundai.
Strangely, they were all third places. Standing on the rostrum’s lowest step on both Rally Spain and the Monza Rally to see out 2021, Sordo then finished third in Portugal (claimed on the last stage), Sardinia and Greece with the new Rally1 Hyundai to beat his own record from a decade and a half earlier.
8= Jari-Matti Latvala
5 consecutive podiums
It was perhaps inevitable that the WRC’s most experienced driver should appear on this list, and actually Jari-Matti Latvala put together two runs of five podium finishes throughout his career.
The first was across 2010-11 when the Finn was a Ford driver.
Third on the Focus RS WRC’s final event in GB, Latvala then produced an impressive run of three second places to kickstart 2011 in the brand-new Fiesta WRC, and then secured a painful second in Jordan as he pipped to the win by just 0.2 seconds.
Latvala’s second streak of five fell in 2015 behind the wheel of the all-conquering Volkswagen Polo R WRC. A win in Finland and two seconds in Germany and Australia preceded a maiden Tarmac win in Corsica and then a second in Spain.
8= Ott Tänak
5 consecutive podiums
Ott Tänak’s spell as a Hyundai driver may be one fans of the 2019 world champion are keen to forget as he failed to secure another championship, but it was in Hyundai colors that Tänak recorded his best consecutive podium run.
As the i20 N Rally1 came on song as the 2022 season developed, the Estonian hit his peak form and couldn’t be kept off the podium from Rally Estonia in July to Rally New Zealand in October.
That run included two back-to-back wins in Finland and Ypres as well as a controversial second on the Acropolis where Tänak felt he should be able to finish ahead of team-mate Thierry Neuville in Hyundai’s formation 1-2-3 finish.
Spoiler alert: Neuville has gotten the better of Tänak here too…
8= Colin McRae
5 consecutive podiums
Consistency wasn’t really what Colin McRae was remembered for. But the Scottish sensation did manage to net five podiums on the bounce back in the 1990s.
As the race for the 1995 world championship heated up, McRae made his move and won in New Zealand to reignite his title bid. That kickstarted a fine podium run with second in Australia, a controversial second to team-mate and title rival Carlos Sainz in Spain and then that famous win in Great Britain that earned him the title.
Third on the season-opening Rally Sweden in 1996 extended McRae’s podium run to five before a fourth in Kenya brought it to an end.
McRae came close to matching his personal best later on in his career, with a run of four podium finishes in both 1997/98 and then in 2000 for Ford.
8= Didier Auriol
5 consecutive podiums
The 1994 world champion can’t compete with the driver at the top of this list, but Didier Auriol does hold a unique distinction as the only driver to set their personal best podium run having won all of those events.
Auriol’s 1992 season for Lancia will always go down as one of the WRC’s big ‘what if’ stories, after a sensational start petered out towards the end and the Frenchman was forced to concede the title to Carlos Sainz.
But after a win on the Monte and an engine-induced retirement in Portugal, Auriol went on a scorching run of five wins, claiming the Tour de Corse, Acropolis, Argentina, Finland and Australia victories to set a staggering record that he was never able to better.
6= Thierry Neuville
6 consecutive podiums
Of all the full-time drivers in the WRC right now, nobody has a better consecutive podium record than Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville.
The Belgian bagged himself six consecutive rostrum finishes at the birth of the more aggressive and more powerful World Rally Cars in 2017, and came close to matching that several times since.
Hyundai’s i20 Coupe WRC was widely acknowledged to be the fastest car in 2017 but Neuville failed to convert the lead in both Monte Carlo and Sweden into victory.
But third on Rally México marked the beginning of a strong run where Neuville won both the Tour de Corse and Argentina, was second in Portugal, third in Sardinia and then won in Poland.
He’s managed five consecutive podiums on three separate occasions: first for M-Sport in 2013, then for Hyundai in 2016 and more recently across 2022-23.
6= Marcus Grönholm
6 consecutive podiums
Tying with Neuville in this ranking is two-time world champion Marcus Grönholm. Although it wasn’t in either of his championship years – 2000 or 2002 – that Grönholm was his most prolific in terms of delivering back-to-back podiums.
In fact, it wasn’t even with the same Peugeot team.
Instead Grönholm set his personal best when driving for Ford in 2006, kicked off by a win on the Acropolis which preceded third in Germany, a near inevitable win in Finland, second in Japan and Cyprus and a win in Turkey.
Grönholm’s 2006 title challenge was only really made realistic by Sébastien Loeb’s mountain bike accident, but credit to the Finn as Loeb was only missing for one of those events (Turkey) in this run.
5 Mikko Hirvonen
8 consecutive podiums
Throughout their two years as team-mates in 2006 and 2007, Mikko Hirvonen didn’t get the better of team leader Grönholm too often – but he has usurped him here!
Perhaps that’s no surprise though, as if there was one thing Hirvonen was famed for throughout his late 2000s pomp, it was consistency.
Hirvonen’s best podium run was eight, claimed when he was at the peak of his powers throughout the 2009 season. All year, the Finn was only off the podium once!
After retirement in Argentina, Hirvonen bounced back with second in Sardinia and was never off the rostrum for the rest of the year. He claimed four wins in a row (Acropolis, Poland, Finland and Australia) before third in Spain and a heart-breaking second in Wales that cost him the title to Loeb by just one point.
Hirvonen continued his podium streak into 2010 with a win on Rally Sweden before his form began to tail off.
4 Sébastien Ogier
9 consecutive podiums
A surprise? Perhaps. It’s not often Sébastien Ogier isn’t at the very least second behind a certain other all-conquering Frenchman when it comes to lists like these.
But in a ranking all about the podium, the eight-time champion has just missed out on the top three.
And potentially even more surprisingly, Ogier’s best run of nine wasn’t exclusively claimed in a Volkswagen!
The run was kicked off in a VW though, and in emphatic style too. Following a crazy run of six events with six different winners in 2016, Ogier reminded everyone who was boss with four wins on the bounce in Germany, Corsica, Spain and Wales.
Team-mate Andreas Mikkelsen pipped Ogier to VW’s final ever win in Australia, but second was a fifth podium in a row which Ogier carried into his new chapter with M-Sport Ford.
Victory on debut in Monte Carlo was the first of four straight podiums in 2017 to extend Ogier’s run to nine, before fourth in Argentina brought it all to an end.
3 Carlos Sainz
10 consecutive podiums
One of the hardest working, more precise and consistent rally drivers ever, it’s no shock to see Carlos Sainz’s name so high on this list.
For over 15 years, the Spaniard was a perennial threat in the WRC but it was at the beginning of his career when he set what was then a record for the most consecutive podium finishes with 10.
Finishing second on the 1990 Tour de Corse, Sainz grabbed his maiden WRC win on the Acropolis and then immediately followed it up with another in New Zealand.
From there until the end of the season Sainz was never off the podium as he went on to claim the 1990 title, and then extended his podium run throughout the early phases of 1991 with wins in Monte Carlo and Portugal.
2 Juha Kankkunen
11 consecutive podiums
Deciding which manufacturer Juha Kankkunen had the most success with is the source of a good debate. Was it Toyota, the team which he grew with, won his first rally with and his last world title or Lancia, the outfit he joined twice and won two world championships with.
Kankkunen’s record of 11 consecutive podiums in a Delta Integrale adds good weight to the argument that Kankkunen’s best times were in a Lancia, though.
A second place in Spain and victory on the season-closing RAC Rally earned Kankkunen his third championship, but despite failing to retain that world crown in 1992 Kankkunen achieved something else extraordinary but never finishing off the podium all season long.
In nine starts, Kankkunen only won once (in Portugal) but scored six straight second places from the Safari Rally through to Spain, with third place finishes to book-end the season on the Monte and the RAC.
To this day, Kankkunen remains one of two drivers to achieve such an accolade. The other tops this list.
1 Sébastien Loeb
15 consecutive podiums
There are no prizes for guessing who comes out on top here. It couldn’t be anyone else could it?
Sébastien Loeb’s dominance of the WRC was so strong that if this list was a ranking of simply the best podium runs, rather than segmented by the best each driver managed, Loeb would lock out the top four all by himself.Remarkable.
His best effort was an astonishing 15 podiums on the spin though, achieved through 2008 and 2009 with the Citroën C4 WRC.
Beginning with a victory on Rally Italy Sardinia in 2008, the 40th of his WRC career, Loeb won again in Greece before clinching third in Turkey.
Five straight wins would follow in Finland, Germany, New Zealand, Spain and Corsica before Loeb slipped to third in Japan, only to bounce back and win the season finale in Wales.
With 10 podium finishes in a row, Loeb carried that momentum into 2009 with a sensational run of five consecutive wins in Ireland, Norway, Cyprus, Portugal and Argentina before a complicated rally in Sardinia dropped him to fourth – his ridiculous run ending on the same rally it had started 12 months earlier.
Loeb would record runs of 14, 13 and 12 consecutive podiums at other points in his career too.