Carlos Sainz: “We have our homework done to win the Dakar again”

MADRID, 12/22/2020.- The Spanish rally driver Carlos Sainz (c) and his co-driver Lucas Cruz (d), together with Carlos Martínez, general director of Mini, give a press conference at the Mini headquarters, their marks in the Dakar, this Tuesday in Madrid.  EFE/Fernando Alvarado

The Spanish couple formed by Carlos Sainz and Lucas Cruz start as favorites to renew the victory achieved last year in the Dakar in Arabia. “We have our homework done”, declared the driver from Madrid who, at 58 years old, faces a new challenge to enlarge the most brilliant sports career in Spanish motorsport. Along with Lucas Cruz, they will attempt one more victory in their record. In contrast to Sainz’s usual impressions, this time Carlos was optimistic about the result, “despite the fact that the Dakar is always unpredictable”.

For this, he trusts “in the best Mini I have ever driven” after having the experience of having driven for the British brand in the last two years. “We have our homework done to win”, declared the man from Madrid, after having participated in two short races in Arabia the last month in which he has achieved a second place and a victory. “It has been positive to be able to participate in two two-day races, separated by another two days of rest. This has given us a race pace similar to what we are going to find in the Dakar and to be able to have contact with a desert terrain in Arabia”.

For his part, Carlos Martínez, general director of Mini for Spain, highlighted the winning spirit of the couple formed by Sainz and Cruz and trusted their professionalism to achieve a new victory in the Dakar for the brand. He recalled that Mini already achieved a victory in this test in 2012 and has achieved several wins, the last of them last year with Sainz at the wheel. “With this we continue with the tradition of Mini in competition, which has victories in top-level races, such as the victories in the Monte Carlo Rally in 1964, 1965 and 1967”.

For Sainz Toyota they will be the main rivals of this edition of the Dakar, with Nasser Al Attiya as the driver to beat. “It seems that the Toyotas have increased their power and, from what I have seen, they have improved their suspensions. The other rivals will be the Prodrive team cars, although, in his opinion, “winning the Dakar in the first participation is not impossible, but I do consider it very difficult”. Although, the team formed by Nani Roma and Sebastián Loeb considers it very powerful. “Loeb’s return to the race means a plus of quality for the test”, affirmed the winner of the last edition.

For Madrid, the situation this year is even more difficult than in previous editions due to the pandemic. Saudi has closed its borders, but has ensured smooth movement for Dakar participants. But pilots will have to meet a series of basic safety conditions. As explained by the Mini pilot, he will make the trip to Arabia on Monday 28 on a special flight chartered by the organization and will previously have to undergo a PCR. Upon arrival at the Riad he will have a new control and will be confined at least 48 hours in the hotel. The entire organization of the race is in a bubble to avoid contagion and, in addition, pilots and mechanics will undergo random checks throughout the test.

For his part, Lucas Cruz referred to the added difficulties this year, such as the delivery of the “road-book” only half an hour before the start of each stage or the fact that the road book is provided this year in a tablet”. This system makes it more difficult to fix your eyes on the screen at each unevenness of the terrain and does not provide facilities to consult the roadmaps that are approaching, since the screen only gives you a view of the closest points and it is more difficult check the following checkpoints. Regarding the route, it seems that, as the race is oriented further north, the fastest sections of the second half of last year’s edition will be avoided.

Finally, Sainz is convinced that Fernando Alonso will return to Dakar when his current stage in Formula One ends. Regarding the presence of his son at Ferrari, he believes that Carlos Jr is aware of the responsibility of being a driver of such a prestigious team and He is sure that it will improve the competitiveness of the Maranello single-seaters in the coming season. “Carlos is very excited,” said the father of the Ferrari driver.

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