WRC drivers: Who won them all?

There is a saying that goes “If you want to win, hire a Finn”.
But are the Finnish WRC drivers really the best when it comes to WRC victories? We’ve checked the stats and the results may surprise you…

First let’s begin with the 10 drivers, who started the most WRC rallies.

Who has the most WRC rally starts?
The 3rd place goes to Norwegian driver, nicknamed “Mr. Hollywood”, Petter Solberg, starting from Rally Sweden in 1998, all the way to the final rally of the season 2012 as a Ford factory driver. He then returned as a privateer for RallyRACC in 2018 and Wales Rally GB in 2019 to bring the number of WRC outings to a total of 190.
A Spaniard, also called “El Matador” comes second with 196 WRC starts, with the first one being WRC Portugal rally in 1987 until the end of season in 2005 as a Citroen Total WRT factory driver.
And the first place indeed goes to a Finn, Jari-Matti Latvala, who started his first WRC rally as a privateer in 2002, before moving on to Ford, Volkswagen and Toyota. His last WRC active season was in 2019, before taking the role of Toyota WRC team principal, while still attending Rally Sweden in 2020 as a privateer.

Full top 10 list:
1. Jari-Matti Latvala – 209 starts
2. Carlos Sainz – 196
3. Petter Solberg – 190
4. Sebastien Loeb – 184
5. Daniel Sordo – 182
6. Sebastien Ogier – 174
7. Mikko Hirvonen – 163
8. Juha Kankkunen – 162
9. Markus Gronholm – 153
10. Didier Auriol – 152

Who has the most WRC rally wins?
To win the championship title, you need to win as many rallies as possible, therefore it’s no surprise that the top of the list belongs to two equally named French drivers, who together won 17 titles, Sebastien Loeb with 80 wins and Sebastien Ogier with 55.
In third place we find Marcus Gronholm with 30, Carlos Sainz with 26 and Colin McRae with 25.

1. Sebastien Loeb – 80
2. Sebastien Ogier – 55
3. Marcus Gronholm – 30
4. Carlos Sainz – 26
5. Colin McRae – 25
6. Tommi Makinen – 24
7. Juha Kankkunen – 23
8. Didier Auriol – 20
9. Markku Alen – 19
10. Jari-Matti Latvala & Hannu Mikkola – 18

Who has the most WRC rally podium finishes?
There is no surprise that if you had won 9 consecutive championship titles, you had to be on the podium quite often and that is the case for Sebastien Loeb with 120 podiums, followed by Carlos Sainz with 97 and Sebastien Ogier with 94 podium finishes in WRC.

Who has the most WRC rally wins in different rallies?

The same as with podiums applies also to the wins in different rallies as Loeb tops the list with 23, followed by Ogier with 20 and Sainz with 13 different rallies.

Sebastien Loeb: Acropolis, Alsace, Argentina, Australia, Bulgaria, Catalunya, Corsica, Cyprus, Deutschland, Finland, Great Britain, Ireland, Japan, Jordan, Mexico, Monte Carlo, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, San Remo, Sardinia, Sweden and Turkey.

Sebastien Ogier: Acropolis, Alsace, Australia, Catalunya, Corsica, Croatia, Deutschland, Finland, Great Britain, Japan, Jordan, Mexico, Monte Carlo, Monza, Poland, Portugal, Safari, Sardinia, Sweden, Turkey

Carlos Sainz: Acropolis, Argentina, Catalunya, Corsica, Cyprus, Finland, Great Britain, Indonesia, Monte Carlo, New Zealand, Portugal, Safari, Turkey

Who are the oldest and youngest WRC rally winners?

Youngest ever WRC rally winner is the current champion, Kalle Rovanpera, who won Rally Estonia 2021 at 20 years and 289 days of age, beating compatriot Jari-Matti Latvala by 2 years and 24 days.

For a long time, it was Scandinavian trio who topped the list of oldest WRC rally winners, with Bjorn Waldegard (46 years 155 days – 1990 Safari rally), Hannu Mikkola (44y 331days – 1987 Safari rally) and Pentti Airikkala winning 1989 Great Britain at 44 years and 80 days, but this changed with a remarkable achievement of “Le Patron”, Sebastien Loeb who won 2022 Monte Carlo Rally at 47 years and 331 days of age, immediately after returning from the Dakar Rally.

Who has the most WRC rally retirements?

When talking about retirements, many of you would think of one driver, who was known for his incredible driving on the limit, which often went over the limit and resulted in a DNF. Of course we are talking about Colin McRae here, but surprisingly, he’s 2nd on the list, with 60 retirements, followed by Tommi Makinen with 56, while #1 position with 61 retirements goes to Hannu Mikkola.

Who has the most stage wins in WRC rallies?

Win every stage (or majority of it) and you’ll win the rally, right? If we compare the number of starts and number of wins, the top of this list should be reserved for both Sebastiens, once again. But that’s not the case, as #1 on this list is indeed Sebastien Loeb, with 939 stage wins, while Ogier has just risen to the 5th position after Rally Japan 2022 with 656 stage wins, taking the position from Hannu Mikkola. But there are two Finns and one Spaniard who occupy the second, third and fourth position, with Juha Kankkunen winning 700 stages, Carlos Sainz 756 and Markku Alen 826 of them. But it’s worth mentioning that all of these had driven in the 80’s and 90’s when rallies had much more stages than they do today.

Which nation is the most successful in the WRC?
And now on to the question from the start of this article. Does Finland really have the most WRC driver winners? No. (but Kalle Rovanpera aims to change that in the next couple of seasons).
Since the World Rally Championship was introduced, we have had 17 different countries with a driver winning a WRC rally.

With 1 there are Argentina, Canada, New Zealand and Portugal, followed by Japan and Austria with 2 victories. Kenya concludes the final “under 10” stat with 8 wins, while Germany and Norway are at 17, with Belgium at 18 wins. If Thierry Neuville is the driver who brought the majority of the Belgian wins (17/18), with the latest at the final rally of the 2022 season in Japan, Estonia can thank Ott Tanak for 17 of their 22 wins.
Italy with legends like Massimo “Miki” Biasion, Sandro Munari and others, is currently sharing the 5th place in the rankings with Spain (Puras, Sainz, Sordo) with 30 wins, while on the 4th place we have Sweden with 43 wins (Waldegard 16, Sig Blomqvist 11).

The top 3 starts with United Kingdom and 46 victories from Richard Burns, Roger Clark, Colin McRae, Kris Meek and Elfyn Evans.

And now the big leap to 187 WRC wins, here it is, Finland. Penttti Airikkala, Markku Alen, Marcus Gronholm, Kyosti Hamalainen, Mikko Hirvonen, Juha Kankkunen, Esapekka Lappi, Jari-Matti Latvala, Timo Makinen, Tommi Makinen, Hannu Mikkola, Harri Rovanpera, Kalle Rovanpera, Timo Salonen, Henri Toivonen and Ari Vatanen are the ones, who put Finland on 2nd place in WRC driver wins ranking.

For those who guessed it right, the country with most WRC winners is, of course, France, with 202 wins, from which the majority goes thanks to two Sebastiens, Loeb with 80 and Ogier with 55 victories under their name. But we can’t forget legends like Didier Auriol, Philippe Bugalski, Francois Delecour, Jean ragnotti, Gilles Panizzi, Michele Mouton and others, who helped to put France on top of the list.

So there you have it, one more time in a “too long, didn’t read” version:
1. France – 202
2. Finland – 187
3. United Kingdom – 46
4. Sweden – 43
5. Italy – 30
6. Spain – 30
7. Estonia – 22
8. Belgium – 18
9. Germany – 17
10. Norway – 17
11. Kenya – 8
12. Austria – 2
13. Japan – 2
14. Argentina – 1
15. Canada – 1
16. New Zealand – 1
17. Portugal – 1

Stats by juwra.com and wikipedia.com
Graphics can be used with permission.
Stats background image by Lucho Renolfi (Unsplash)

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