With two world rally titles and 26 WRC wins to his name, Carlos Sainz is a sporting great. After calling time on the world championship, he wrote a new chapter in his success story with victory in the 2010 Dakar Rally. He’s also played a key role in Volkswagen’s dominance the 2013 WRC by testing the Polo R World Rally Car. His son, Carlos Jr, is looking forward to a bright future in motor racing too, having already tested in F1 for Toro Rosso and Red Bull Racing.
Redbull.com: It’s been a very good season here at Volkswagen. What’s made the difference?
Carlos Sainz: “Sebastien Ogier is a fantastic driver but to win the world championship you need to have a very strong car and a very good team. Volkswagen’s preparations were very good, having one year of testing and mixing that with rallies in the Skoda. By the end of last year the car was in really good shape and when I was testing I had a really good feeling with the car.”
RB: You’ve experienced just how competitive the WRC is first hand yet Ogier won seven rounds and sometimes by a big margin. Did that surprise you?
CS: “At the official team presentation in Monte Carlo everybody was saying we would fight at the end of the year but I had the feeling we would be competitive early. Of course I was putting a lot of trust in Ogier as I knew he could make the difference. He did a fantastic year: to arrive with a new car and fight Citroen and Ford was not an easy task.”
RB: What’s so good about Sebastien Ogier?
CS: “He’s very focused and he wants to win always. He is very fast and has everything you need to become world champion. He has proved he has a lot of ambition and will not only win one championship.”
RB: So is there more Sebastien Loeb-style dominance in store?
CS: “He has a very good level but it also depends on the competition. But he’s in the best team and as long as Volkswagen is staying he will have a good tool to win many championships.”
RB: And what about the Polo R WRC, that’s not bad either?
CS: “From a technical point of view the car was built in absolutely the right way. We had a bit of work to do after the first test on gravel, but the general weight distribution was good. You are talking about a car that has maximum grip, traction, braking, lateral grip and balance. You do not need to throw the rear of the car to make it turn. In most of rally cars the tendency is to slide from the rear but this car has really good balance and good grip at the rear. You can set the car up quite soft but the car is not rolling, which is a real advantage.”
RB: You’re a regular visitor to the WRC. What do you think of the championship right now?
CS: “The current technical regulations are quite nice but a bit more power for the cars would make it more exciting. We need to make the events a real occasion, so when the rally comes to a country it is special. Maybe adding historic cars on some rallies so instead of 50 cars you have 150 cars. This would have more impact and there would be more people. Sébastien Loeb leaving the sport is a loss but it’s an opportunity for younger drivers. We can only thank him for what he did for rallying.”
Hungry for more...