Carlos Sainz Cenamor (Madrid, April 12, 1962), at age 57, the topic that old rockers never die is good. With a herniated disc, the reconstructed Achilles tendon and annoyed shoulder, the eternal pilot never has enough. He has competed in his 13th Dakar (the first was in 2006, the penultimate African) and has already taken three tuaregs
(2010, 2018, 2020), in addition to the podium of 2011 (it was 3rd). All the successes, together with Lucas Cruz, his faithful co-pilot, who swiped at Nani Rome in 2010.

Purpose accomplished

Sainz had set out to “take the record for the oldest veteran two years higher,” at 57, and has made it happen

What moves a 57-year-old driver to continue competing, to train thoroughly, to play life in a race that is not a ride? The passion. He explained it himself before traveling to Saudi Arabia, a cold December day in Madrid: “I am the oldest to have won the race, and I would like to take that record two years higher, if I won it with 55, I would like to do it with 57. The motivation remains intact, The day that Lucas Cruz I think we can’t win him to be the first to tell me. I have the motivation for the passion I feel for the races, I continue to live each test, for preparation, every moment ”.

To Carlos Sainz the adventure of the Dakar it came to him already mature, with 43 years (in the 2006), but when he was still with the steering wheel and the hot seat: it had been a little more than a year since he had retired from the WRC rally world, which had won twice (1990 and 1992), and had been resisted a few more times in episodes that have remained in the collective memory: el 1994 World Cup “We screwed up, Luis”, and that of 98 “Try to tear it off”, from Luis Moya

Sainz’s engine

The motivation remains intact. I have it for the passion I feel for the races, I still live each test, for preparation, every moment ”

It seemed in that first Dakar of 2006 with Volkswagen that the African adventure could come a little big to the Matador, very fast, but little browser: It was 11th with the VW Tuareg, although it won 4 stages, a sign that it was not going so badly. In 2007 he repeated the incursion into the African desert – the last visit to the black continent – and Sainz managed to finish 9th overall due to mechanical problems, with 5 partial wins.

Behind the 2008 edition suspension Due to the terrorist threat in the Sahel, the Dakar Rally moved to South America in 2009. As a warm-up, Sainz wins the Central European Rally and is 2nd in the PAX Rally of Portugal, both of the Dakar Series. But upon arriving at the South American Dakar, the badge seemed to return of yesteryear: after leading with authority, after winning 6 of the first 10 stages and accumulating 27 minutes of advantage, he suffered an accident in the absence of three days after falling through a 4-meter ravine due to a signaling error.

He came back stronger in the 2010, with new co-pilot: Lucas Cruz he took over from Michel Périn, with whom he did not finish tuning. With your partner of Caldes de Montbui It was Saint’s hand: first Dakar together, first triumph. He became the first Spaniard to win the Dakar in cars. He did it ahead of his then teammate Nasser Al Attiyah, who took only 2m12s, the smallest difference in the history of the rally.

The ‘gafe’ fallacy

What I like most about Carlos is the determination he has. He has been competing at the highest level with good results for over 40 years. There are not many athletes in the world who can say that; therefore he is a tremendously lucky person ”

The triumph showed – who still believed it – that Sainz was not a badge. Luis Moya, his co-pilot for 15 years in rallies, he was clear: “He has no bad luck at all. Who was going to tell Carlos when he started that he was going to be Spain squash champion, twice world rally champion, winner of the Dakar …? There are drivers who have run the World rally for many years and have won nothing. How Marku allen. What I like most about Carlos is the determination what’s wrong with it. He has been competing at the highest level with good results for over 40 years. There are not many athletes in the world who can say that; He started with 17 years and now with 57 he still goes to the Dakar and is one of the favorites to win it – he commented before starting the rally. And he has made a living doing what he likes, therefore he is a person tremendously lucky

Carlos Sainz with his Mini

In the Dakar 2011 Sainz and Cruz touched the triumph. They were third, they became leaders until the 7th stage, but an accident in stage 11 caused them to break the front suspension after falling into a hole. It was the beginning of a lustrum truly black, which revived the fame of gafe: from 2013 to 2017 Sainz linked five dropouts in the Dakar: mechanical problems, an accident with a double bell return, a breakdown in the gearbox and another spectacular accident left the Madrid player out of play.

The success came back in the 2018, again with Lucas Cruz, and behind the wheel of a powerful Peugeot 3008 DKR, with 43 minutes ahead of Al Attiyah. Sainz became the oldest winner of the Dakar, at 55, and eight after his first win.

After a Dakar 2019 in which it premiered with Mini and he was denied (13th, for a breakdown in the 3rd stage that left him thrown 3 hours), Charles Y Luke they returned with renewed desire in this first Dakar in Saudi Arabia, with the rivalry concentrated in the Toyota. His Mini two-wheel drive could compete with the buggies of Toyota in reliability. “It is the year of capitalizing on the work done and being able to present battle to Toyota. It has worked on the weight, they have gained a few kilos (the minimum weight is lower than the 4×4), and we will be able to better exploit the weight advantage, ”he said. The Madrid player has won four stages and has been a leader, continuously, since the third special, always keeping his two top rivals at bay, Al Attiyah Y Peterhansel, to whom a solid relationship of friendship and respect joins them.


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