30 years ago at Rally Portugal, a 24-year-old former Spanish squash champion and Formula Ford racer lined up for his debut World Rally Championship event. Carlos Sainz duly went out and won his first ever WRC stage, before his Ford Sierra RS Cosworth’s turbo gave up the ghost.
Three decades on and Sainz – who went on to enjoy a career that netted two WRC titles and saw him drive for the likes of Ford, Citroën, Toyota and Subaru – still remembers his Portuguese debut fondly. “You never forget your first WRC rally,” he tells RedBull.com. “We won the first stage at Estoril, but my big regret is that the car stopped before we were able to try the proper gravel stages.”
We asked Carlos – who’ll be Red Bull TV’s guest presenter at Rally Portugal alongside Mike Chen – to make his predictions for the 2017 event, and also to tell us the factors that make Portugal so unique. “The changeable conditions and the road cleaning,” reckons Carlos. “The surface in Portugal is quite soft, so there can be some rocks on the second pass with very deep ruts. You often have to change the set-up to cope with that.”
Here are Carlos’ predictions for Rally Portugal 2017…