After a tricky period for both driver and team, Ott Tänak delivered his and Hyundai’s first win of the 2022 World Rally Championship last weekend, and it couldn’t have felt sweeter.
Since winning the world championship and leaving Toyota for Hyundai, Tänak has claimed just three victories in two and a third seasons, and he’s aware that his Rally Italy success is no guarantee of further wins in the immediate future.
But having gone 15 long months since his last win on 2021 Arctic Rally Finland, Tänak broke his WRC winning drought that had risen to as high as 13 events.
However the 2019 world champion is far from the only driver to be forced to wait a while between WRC victories. It’s not always a dip in form from the driver that can cause it – there can be several influencing factors like team performance, the form of others or simply bad luck.
With the help of the eWRC-results database, here’s a look at the longest winning drought of each of the current Rally1 drivers (some of which are ongoing) contracted to a manufacturer team in 2022.
Drivers like Craig Breen, Gus Greensmith, Adrien Fourmaux, Pierre-Louis Loubet, Takamoto Katsuta and Oliver Solberg are naturally excluded from this list given they are yet to record a victory in the WRC.
We’re discounting Sébastien Ogier’s 2012 season here as he was competing in a Škoda Fabia S2000, eligible for the second-tier SWRC series, so therefore didn’t give Ogier a realistic hope of vying for a win – even if he won a stage outright that year in Sardinia!
Since winning his first event, Rally Portugal back in 2010, eight-time champion Ogier’s longest run without a win is seven events, effectively half a season.
He’s gone on such a run twice, both in recent years. The first was in 2017 when after winning Portugal, his first gravel win for M-Sport, Ogier would go on to claim the world title once again but would be made to wait until Monte Carlo the following season to grab his next win.
The second came in 2019, then driving for Citroën. Ogier won two of the first three events but after the second of those in México, he wouldn’t grace the top step again until Turkey – by which point his championship defense was already hanging by a thread.
It took Esapekka Lappi just four tries at the top tier of the WRC to win his first event, claiming success at home in 2017 after a close battle with Toyota team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala.
But that emphatic weekend remains Lappi’s one and only WRC win, meaning his win drought is ongoing – standing at 41 events. Again, we’re ignoring Lappi’s two appearances in WRC2 last season in this tally.
Lappi’s secured seven further podiums in that time and did lead an event as recently as last weekend’s Rally Italy before he crashed out.
Dani Sordo endured 57 WRC rallies, and six years, before winning again in the WRC, profiting from some late Ott Tänak drama in Sardinia to add that trophy alongside his pot for Rally Germany 2013.
That may seem like a long wait, but it was of course nothing compared to the seven and a half seasons and nearly 30 podiums Sordo went before finally breaking his WRC winning duck.
He’s currently on a run of 10 appearances without a win following his most recent success in Sardinia, 2020.
Thierry Neuville had shown himself to be the WRC’s next big talent when he took an unexpected second in the championship in 2013, and that form continued into 2014 with new employer Hyundai when he won Rally Germany – despite a dramatic roll in shakedown.
But from there things got tricky for Neuville as Volkswagen’s dominance continued and there was a shift in power within his own four walls due to the rise of Hayden Paddon.
Neuville went on a run of reputation-damaging accidents through 2015 and was even demoted to Hyundai’s B-team at points throughout the year. But he would finally climb back onto the top step again the following season in Sardinia, 22 events after his last win.
Sébastien Loeb has only ever gone eight rallies without a win, and that came when he was a part-time driver for Hyundai. Before then, when Loeb was a full-time competitor and won championships for fun, his longest winless streak was just six rallies between Monte Carlo and Germany 2003.
Loeb’s eight fell between his remarkable Rally Spain 2018 win in the unfancied Citroën C3 WRC and his even more remarkable victory on his M-Sport debut on the 2022 Monte.
The nine-time champion did score two podiums across those two seasons in an i20 Coupe WRC but never featured higher than third.
Elfyn Evans isn’t on a particularly encouraging run at the moment, as Rally Italy was his seventh rally without a win.
But his longest streak without a WRC victory is 26 events, between his maiden triumph – at home on Rally GB in 2017 – and his first victory for Toyota in Sweden 2020.
During that period Evans did come close to success, particularly on the 2019 Tour de Corse where he led ahead of the final stage but exited it third after a puncture derailed his bid.
But in an M-Sport Ford Fiesta WRC that wasn’t as heavily developed as its Hyundai and Toyota rivals, it wasn’t until Evans got himself into one of those cars that the floodgates began to ease.
There’s a growing inevitability that Kalle Rovanperä will usurp the incredible records the two Sébastiens have set before him, but in this unofficial capacity the 21-year-old has them both licked.
The statistic must be taken with a pinch of salt as Rovanperä won his first WRC rally less than a year ago, therefore there isn’t as large a set as there is with other drivers. But the fact he’s only ever gone four rallies between wins is deeply impressive.
That run was between the 2021 Acropolis and this year’s Rally Sweden where Rovanperä crashed at home in Finland, placed fifth on Rally Spain, was unable to finish higher than ninth in Monza due to a team instruction and kicked his 2022 season off with fourth on the Monte.
|Position||Driver||Longest win drought|
|1||Kalle Rovanperä||4 rallies|
|2||Sébastien Ogier||7 rallies|
|3||Sébastien Loeb||8 rallies|
|4||Ott Tänak||13 rallies|
|5||Thierry Neuville||22 rallies|
|6||Elfyn Evans||26 rallies|
|7||Esapekka Lappi||41 rallies|
|8||Dani Sordo||57 rallies|