For years, Dani Sordo was famed for finishing second. 14 times, he brought a Citroën Xsara or C4 WRC home one spot behind team-mate Sébastien Loeb.
Those days are gone. Loeb’s still in the World Rally Championship – albeit 10 years on from his last full season and title, and driving a Ford these days – while Sordo has become part of the furniture at Hyundai and made a new position his own.
He’s done two rallies this season in an i20 N Rally1. He was third on both. And stretching back to 2021 in the old i20 Coupe WRC, Sordo was third in both Spain and Monza.
So if you’re an individual that enjoys a flutter every now and again, placing your pocket change on a Sordo third place on Acropolis Rally Greece might not be the worst move you make.
OK, we’re being facetious there, but the point still stands: Sordo is as close as any WRC team will get to a safe bet for a podium. It can’t be long before he gets referred to as the postman. Put him in the car and he will deliver.
It’s incredible how Sordo can just plug himself back into the WRC and perform. He may be high on overall experience (Acropolis is his 180th start) and he may be aided by road position on the first day, but you just know that he’ll get the job done this week.
And that’s no easy task given an entire summer has been and gone since Sordo was last strapped into a Hyundai in the WRC.
Sordo’s been a part-time player in the world championship for quite some time now, so this is no unfamiliar scenario. But his ‘new normal’ has given him a new lease of life and ability to just enjoy doing his bit for a team he loves, rather than having to stress about any larger objectives or ongoing politics.
It means he’s arguably performing better than he ever has, despite closing on the big 40 next year.
His appearances are becoming increasingly fleeting though as Hyundai continues to nurture Oliver Solberg into, it hopes, a world champion.
Sordo therefore won’t make the trip to New Zealand after Greece as Solberg will go there in a bid to gain experience of the roads that may well be included in the WRC for years to come, and you’d have to assume the same logic would see Solberg board the jumbo to Japan too.
So that leaves Rally Spain. Another homecoming for Sordo – the perfect way to say goodbye?
Rumors began to surface after Spain last year that 2022 would be Sordo’s last; speculation he didn’t confirm or deny. It didn’t seem like he really knew if he wanted to continue or not, perhaps it all came down to how much he enjoyed the new Rally1 cars.
With motorsport’s silly season in full swing, these thoughts must already be running through Sordo’s head. These conversations must surely have begun (or at the very least been scheduled to begin) within Hyundai’s impressive service structure.
No matter what Sordo’s future holds, his focus and determination for each rally he starts will never waver.
His pre-event Acropolis talk is of a driver comfortable, confident and cool with the challenge that lies ahead.
“Of course everyone will be pushing hard, but you will have to be clever in certain sections and not go over the limit,” he said.
“There is also the small chance of rain that could make the stages very slippery and even harder to deal with.
“Cándido [Carrera, co-driver] and I have managed to get a podium at both our previous events this season, so we would like to continue that top-three form.”
There’s absolutely no evidence to suggest he can’t. And no evidence to suggest he can’t continue to keep performing at such a high level.
Hyundai must surely be pulling out all the stops to get Sordo’s signature on another piece of paper. But can it continue to keep Solberg lingering if it truly believes he is the team’s future?
For Sordo himself, perhaps keeping his foot in the door, earning a good crust, enjoying driving and helping a youngster continue to find their feet is the perfect deal. But with other growing commitments like rally raid, maybe a firm, new chapter beyond the WRC is what appeals most.
These are all questions that are bound to be answered in the coming months and maybe even weeks, but we – and Hyundai – must enjoy having Sordo back in the WRC.
You don’t know how good you’ve got it until it’s gone.