El Matador

Carlos Sainz

Spain’s original WRC and off-road hero!

Team Peugeot Total driver Carlos Sainz at the Dakar Rally
© DPPI/Red Bull Content Pool

Hi, my name is Carlos Sainz. My discipline is rally. My friends call me El Matador. I was born on 12 April 1962 in Madrid. My special talent is football. My philosophy of life is never give up. The most important person in my life is my father. My favourite food is seafood.


Carlos Sainz has made more World Rally Championship starts than any other driver. ‘El Matador’, as he's known, was twice crowned WRC World Champion, taking the title for Toyota in 1990 and 1992 and was runner-up a further four times.

Having retired from WRC, Carlos continues his world-class rallying career in cross-country events, notably the Dakar Rally. He has notched up some spectacular podiums since switching to cross-country rally driving including winning the 2010 Dakar Rally and the 2009 Silk Way event in Russia. He returned for the 2013 Dakar Rally with teammate Nasser Al-Attiyah and won the first stage, however he later faced various problems and was forced to retire in the sixth stage due to engine failure. During the 2014 Dakar, Sainz claimed various podium positions throughout the rally – including two wins, a silver and a bronze – before unfortunately crashing out during stage 10. In the 2015 Dakar he was the fastest of the Peugeot team, but he lost two hours with mechanical problems in the fourth stage and had to retire the next day due to a nasty crash.

Sainz has been busy in 2015 following his first trip to the Dakar as part of Peugeot’s new-look team. The Spaniard has been in the garage working step-by-step with the team’s mechanics to develop the PEUGEOT 2008 DKR16. Alongside trusted co-driver Lucas Cruz, the 2010 Dakar winner is coming back to South America full of confidence that he has a car at his disposal capable of winning the world’s toughest rally.

He returned to the Dakar in 2016 but was forced to retire on Stage 10 while leading the race, after his car suffered a breakage to the spacer that connects the gearbox to the engine.

As well as supporting his son Carlos Sainz Jr in his racing career, he is also an avid football fan. Carlos has been occasionally linked with senior office at Real Madrid, and once stood for the position of vice-president at his favourite club.

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Career Highlights

  1. 2010
    1. Dakar Rally Champion

  2. 2007
    1. FIA Cross-Country Rally World Cup Champion

  3. 1997
    1. The Race of Champions 'Champion of Champions'

  4. 1992
    1. World Rally Champion

  5. 1990
    1. World Rally Champion

    2. Asia-Pacific Rally Champion

  6. 1988
    1. Spanish Rally Champion

  7. 1987
    1. Spanish Rally Champion