Sainz ended the Finnish legend 30 years ago

On August 26, 1990, he became the first non-Nordic man to win the 1000 Lagos, where the local pilots had been unbeaten for four decades.


Red riding boot on the right foot, white sneaker on the left, Carlos Sainz merged into an effusive hug with Luis Moya at the foot of the Rantasipi Hotel in Jyväskylä. Hundreds of incredulous Finns applauded them without even having digested that on August 26, 1990, a legend that had lasted for four decades was ending. For the first time a non-Nordic pilot won in the 'university' of rallying, in the mythical 1000 Lagos.

Aware of the difficult challenge before him, Sainz, who arrived in Finland leading the World Cup after achieving his first two triumphs in Greece and New Zealand, wanted to prepare the 1000 Lagos thoroughly. The year before, victory was close at hand until a bridge crossed his path and snatched it from him, and this time he didn't want to leave any loose ends. He trained the sections to satiety, and tested the car day after day ... until the day before the start of the test, when he was fine-tuning the last details, he found some cars in the middle of the road, and he had to leave the road to avoid them, damaging the left foot.

Despite the work of the Toyota team doctor and physiotherapist, his foot was still very swollen, so they decided to put on a sports shoe as the usual driver's booties did not fit. “The left foot is what we use to brake, and the brake pedal feels very hard. You almost have to stand up to operate it. I don't know if I'll be able to drive one hundred percent, ”explained a concerned Sainz. Meanwhile, the local press invented a conspiracy theory that claimed that the foot was a psychological tactic of the Madrilenian. They feared the worst and were already looking for excuses!

The fight was close from the beginning, as evidenced by the fact that there were eleven cars in the same minute at the end of the first stage. But little by little the rivals were falling. Didier Auriol left in the show stage that opened the test and Juha Kankkunen broke the accelerator, finishing a stage with his co-driver, Juha Piironen, sitting on the hood pulling the cable. In the final stage, it was Ari Vatanen who launched a fierce attack to prevent the end of the legend, but Carlos gave him a full answer, despite risking valuable points in their fight for the title.

It was probably Madrid's most important victory in the World Cup. A triumph that a few years ago no one would have dared to predict, since the flying Finns were unbeatable in their field. In four decades of history, only two Swedes, Stig Blomqvist and Michael Ericsson, had managed to beat them. But to think that a Spaniard could achieve it was a utopia, which became a reality today 30 years ago. And almost more astonishing is that the man who changed the history of rallying in 1990, in 2020 has won the Dakar again. Eternal Legend.

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