The votes are in, and the verdict is to be delivered.
We asked you to vote for who you thought was the greatest World Rally Championship driver of all-time, and you responded in your thousands!
Each participant could put forward their top three drivers, and the accumulated list of names allowed us to create DirtFish readers’ top 50 drivers ever to grace the WRC – a neat number given 2022 marked the 50th season of world championship action.
Throughout this week we’ll be running through the results. Yesterday we revealed 50-41, now it’s time for 40-31:
40. Philippe Bugalski
‘Le Petit Bug’ was a supremely talented rally and test driver, acting as the chief irritator of the WRC teams in the late 1990s when he drove a front-wheel-drive Citroën Xsara Kit Car to not one, but two, outright wins.
Bugalski’s professional career actually began with Peugeot but it was with Citroën that he achieved his greatest success, and is therefore best remembered. That pair of wins in Spain and Corsica were truly special and gave him the distinction of being Citroën’s first ever WRC winner.
Bugalski sadly died after a fall in 2012, but not before playing an instrumental role in the career of a certain Thierry Neuville.
39. Timo Mäkinen
The original Mäkinen, the raw statistics behind Timo’s WRC career don’t really suggest how special he was – primarily because he was competing long before the WRC ever existed.
Heroic drives in the modest Mini Cooper spring to mind, particularly Rally Finland in 1967 where he won despite the hood flipping over his windshield on one stage.
In the WRC he was mainly a Ford driver and gave the marque its first ever victory in Finland in 1973. He took three more wins in an Escort, all in Finland and Great Britain.
38. Sandro Munari
A true Lancia legend, few other drivers enjoyed as much success behind the wheel of the iconic Stratos as Munari did.
All seven of the Italian’s WRC victories were scored in the wedge-shaped machine, including a Monte Carlo hattrick from 1975-’77.
Nicknamed ‘Il Drago’ (The Dragon), Munari was also the very first winner of the FIA Cup for Drivers in 1977 – the forerunner to the WRC drivers’ championship which was first introduced in 1979.
37. Kenneth Eriksson
An underrated and often overlooked talent of the WRC, Eriksson’s career longevity was deeply impressive; as was his turn of pace.
Winner of a WRC round for Volkswagen some 26 years before Sébastien Ogier ever was, Eriksson also won three events for Mitsubishi and two for Subaru.
A move to Hyundai to drive a Formula 2 Coupé Kit Car occurred in 1998, which then led to Eriksson driving an Accent WRC for two years before retiring in 2002 after a single season with Škoda.
36. Gilles Panizzi
The undisputed Tarmac king of his generation, Panizzi was so good on sealed surfaces that he even won the 2002 Sanremo Rally despite nursing an injured shoulder.
All seven of his WRC wins came on asphalt and with Peugeot’s 206 WRC. Panizzi was particularly prolific on Sanremo, winning it in 2000, ’01 and ’02.
He left Peugeot the next year to join Mitsubishi and wouldn’t enjoy anywhere near the same level of success – peaking with a podium on debut at the Monte. His career ended with two drives for the Red Bull Škoda team in 2006.
35. Miki Biasion
The first world champion to feature on the list, Biasion could rightfully feel hard done by to feature so low given his dominance of the WRC in the late 1980s.
Winning the first rally for Group A – Monte Carlo 1987 – set the tone for what was to come. Although it was Lancia team-mate Juha Kankkunen that won that year’s title, Biasion cleaned up in both 1988 and ’89, winning 10 of the 13 rallies he started.
But a move to Ford after his Lancia heyday failed to provide the same success with just one victory in an Escort RS Cosworth (Acropolis 1993) before he retired at the end of 1995.
34. Jean Ragnotti
There are few, true one-marque drivers in WRC history. Even Citroën stalwart Sébastien Loeb has driven for Hyundai and now won with M-Sport Ford. But Ragnotti must stand as one of the one-marque men for Renault.
Aside from taking on the ’77 Monte in a VW Golf, Ragnotti only ever drove for Renault or its sister Alpine brand in the world championship, claiming three victories (one Monte, two in Corsica) in the ’80s with a 5 Turbo and 5 Maxi Turbo.
In later years he piloted Renault’s front-wheel-drive pocket rockets, like the Clio Williams and Clio Maxi, before stepping back from the WRC for 1996.
33. Roger Clark
Supremely gifted and intelligent behind the wheel, Clark was the first British driver to win a round of the WRC – prospering on his home event in 1976.
It proved to be the peak of his career in WRC terms but made him an instant legend at home, so much so that a biennial historic rally in the UK is now named after him.
Clark’s career is synonymous with Ford, but he did take on the RAC Rally with both Triumph and Porsche in 1980 and ’84 respectively.
32. Didier Auriol
Only seven drivers have more WRC wins than Auriol, who had long shown the potential to be world champion before he finally became one in 1994 – not least in 1992 where he set the record for rallies won in a season (six) which stood for over a decade.
Originally a Ford driver before joining Lancia, Toyota is the team Auriol claimed his world title with and he stuck with it until 1999 when the brand pulled out.
That facilitated a disappointing move to Seat for 2000, before a reprieve at Peugeot where he claimed his final WRC victory in 2001. His career ended after a lackluster season with Škoda.
31. Andreas Mikkelsen
Part of VW’s domineering spell between 2013-’16, Andreas Mikkelsen won three times in a Polo R WRC but couldn’t quite recapture that magic elsewhere.
His most recent win was his most impressive as he edged Ogier to the Polo R WRC’s final ever victory. A brief spell at Citroën and longer stay at Hyundai failed to net any more wins.
Mikkelsen is currently on the periphery of the WRC, winning the 2021 WRC2 title and fighting for it again this season but ultimately losing out.
Keep an eye on DirtFish tomorrow when the countdown continues.