When are you too old to win a rally?

2/9/2022

 From Loeb to Sainz, Auriol and Waldegard as well as less famous names: the top 10 oldest winners of the World Rally Championship

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Three and a half years after his last win in the World Championship, Sébastien Loeb has succeeded in adding yet another accolade to his incredible career. The first time in a BREMBO M-Sport Ford Puma and with co-driver Isabelle Galmiche, he won the Rallye Automobile Monte Carlo, the first round of the 2022 World Championship, beating Sébastien Ogier by just 10.5 seconds.​


 

​His BREMBO Ford Puma Rally 1 has a 1.6-liter petrol engine that delivers 380 hp and 420 Nm maximum torque plus an electric motor that increases both values to over 500 hp and 500 Nm. The braking system consists of a 4-piston caliper per wheel with air-cooled 370 mm discs.​



 

With this win, Loeb has become the oldest winner of a World Championship rally. Here is the Top 10 of the most experienced drivers to have won an event.​


 

10th place Kenneth Eriksson: 41 years and 83 days​ 


The Swede driver has won 6 world championship rallies: the first in 1987 and the last ten years later in New Zealand in a Subaru Impreza WRC97. In the 1997 race, he went into the lead on the 11th special stage and maintained that lead until the finishing line. Joining him on the podium were the BREMBO Ford Escort WRCs driven by Carlos Sainz and Juha Kankkunen, 13 and 19 seconds apart respectively.​ ​


 

9th place Carlos Sainz: 42 years and 98 days​


Nicknamed the Matador, the Spaniard won 2 world championships before moving into rally raids (4 wins and 46 stages won in Dakar) some with BREMBO. His last rally win came in the Citroën Xsara WRC in Argentina in 2004 when he beat the twin car driven by Sébastien Loeb by one minute 32.4 seconds. With this win, he beat Colin McRae’s old record of 25 wins.​


 

 

8th place Ingvar Carlsson: 42 years and 107 days​ 


Although he had raced in 42 World Championship rallies, for a long time, the Swede was held back by having to use private cars. Things changed when Mazda believed in him in 1984. He rewarded them by winning two rallies in 1989, one in Sweden and one in New Zealand. This last win came after almost 7 hours of racing with an advantage of 2 minutes 42 seconds over Rod Millen who also drive a Mazda 323 4WD.​


 

7th place Didier Auriol: 42 years and 219 days​ 


The winner of the 1994 World Championship with Toyota was given his final satisfaction in the 2001 Rally Catalunya with a Peugeot 206 WRC: 23.2 seconds ahead of his teammate Gilles Panizzi, which was enough to earn himself the 20th win of his career. To do this, all he needed was to win 4 specials, half of those won by Philippe Bugalski who wasted several minutes due to a series of problems with his car. ​


 

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6th place Kenjiro Shinozuka: 44 years and 13 days​ 


Unlike Sainz, the Japanese driver raced for years in the WRC and in Dakar but he did this at the same time and always with Mitsubishi. With the Galant VR-4, he won two editions of the Ivory Coast Rally, the last on the World Championship calendar: in 1991 with a lead of over two hours over the runner up whereas the year after, he limited himself to beating Bruno Thiry by one hour 23 minutes and 18 seconds.​ ​


 

5th place Joginder Singh: 44 years and 70 days​ 


The Kenyan limited his appearances in the World Championship to the Safari Rally which he raced in every year from 1973 to 1980. He won it in 1974 and in 1976 with the BREMBO Mitsubishi Lancer over distances of between 5,200 and 4,950 km per edition. In 1976 he beat his fellow Kenyan Robin Ulyate by 24 minutes where Andrew Cowan was third guaranteeing Mitsubishi a memorable hat-trick.​


 

4th place Pentti Airikkala: 44 years and 80 days​ 


The 1989 World Championship ended with the RAC Rally but Miki Biasion and the BREMBO Lancia saved themselves a trip to England since they were already mathematically champions. Of the 55 special stages, 22 were won by the Finn in a Mitsubishi Galant VR-4, but he only took the lead in the third to last stage after a long wait behind Carlos Sainz. The Spaniard’s woes enabled Airikkala to win by 1 minute 28 seconds. ​


 

 

3rd place Hannu Mikkola: 44 years and 331 days​


​The Finn won eighteen rallies over a 13-year period, from 1974 to 1987. He won the last 10 rallies in an Audi with which he became world champion in 1983. The easiest win with the Four Rings, at least in terms of the final advantage, appears to have been the Safari Rally behind the wheel of a 200 Quattro: in fact, he finished 17 minutes and 15 seconds ahead of Walter Rohrl and over 51 minutes ahead of third place.​ ​


 

2nd place Bjorn Waldegard: 46 years and 155 days​ 


The Swede remained the oldest winner of a World Championship Rally for 31 years. His career was endless as shown by his first world championship win in 1975 with Lancia. His last win was in 1990 in the Safari Rally with a Toyota Celica GT-Four. 59 drivers started off but only 10 finished with Waldegard almost in a race of his own as he finished 38 minutes ahead of second place, 2 hours 47 minutes ahead of third place and 4 hours 20 minutes ahead of fourth place.​


 

1st place Sébastien Loeb: 47 years and 331 days​


 

The launching of the new Rally1 hybrids is marked by a duel between the two Sébastiens. Ogier won the first 2 specials and Loeb won the next 4 and took control. His fellow Frenchman reacted by winning the 8th and the 10th: at this point the two were neck and neck. After winning the 11th and finishing well in the following specials, Ogier went to bed with a lead of 21 seconds ahead. Loeb won the fourth to last special but lost time on the subsequent one. It looked as though Ogier would win but then he picked up a front left puncture on the penultimate special, losing 34 seconds in one fell swoop which proved to be decisive. For Loeb this was the 80th win in the World Championship and the 8th at Monte Carlo. 



 

 

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