Tuesday | 21 Jul 2020

Dani Sordo: the WRC’s essential all-rounder

When Sébastien Ogier replaced Dani Sordo in Citroën’s main factory team midway through 2010, the writing was reckoned to be on the wall for the then 27-year-old Spaniard.

In his fifth season with the French firm, Sordo had been the perfect foil for Sébastien Loeb’s dominance and an eminently solid points-paying number two.

But there was no arguing with Ogier’s credentials as the Versailles top brass sought to put in place Loeb’s long-term successor for the continuation of the WRC’s French dream team.

Sordo was gone in 2011, bound for a part-programme aboard Prodrive’s Mini John Cooper Works. Immediately the Spaniard was back to doing what he did: delivering. Two podiums in his first four WRC rounds with the car ensured there was plenty of life left in the Cantabrian.

When the programme stopped at the end of 2012, Sordo was back with Citroën for a single season and finally, after 106 starts, the first win came in Germany.

The service park-wide, unanimous response to that win spoke volumes about Sordo’s popularity. Genuinely one of the nicest drivers in the sport, the appreciation for his broken duck knew no bounds.

That win was, no doubt, part of the reason he was signed by Hyundai Motorsport for the Korean firm’s first season back with the i20 WRC. Sordo’s safe pair of hands would be needed to deliver points and prizes back to Seoul.

As early as the fourth stage on rally one in the brand new car, Sordo was second fastest. But, minutes later the i20 was silenced with alternator failure. His response was trademark Dani. He was upbeat, focused not frustrated, and looking forward to his next outing.

At the end of the year, there was a two-year deal from then team principal Michel Nandan. But not for six rounds, the team wanted him on as many as possible. He missed just one event per year in the following three seasons.

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Another win in Sardinia last year showed again how much Sordo is valued, but it’s about more than points and results. With Dani, it’s about the man himself.

Nandan said it all when he resigned him for 2017. “He’s positive, always positive. He brings something extra for the team, when he’s there, people are smiling. He’s a good guy and a very good driver. He’s part of the family,” he said.

A split programme with Hayden Paddon – and now with his former Citroën colleague Loeb and Craig Breen – has kept his eye firmly on the ball in recent seasons. But further evidence of Sordo’s commitment came in Monte-Carlo at the start of this year.

Thierry Neuville’s ice note driver Bruno Thiry was unwell and unable to work on the season opener. Sordo was asked by Neuville, but he had his doubts. “I didn’t care about the early mornings,” he said, “I was worried I might not do the job perfectly.”

Video: Sordo's Rally Italia Sardegna 2019 victory

He did. And Neuville wasted no time in complimenting his team-mate’s unstinting efforts in helping to create a famous celebration in the Principality.

Where was Sordo at the start of those celebrations when Neuville and team principal Andrea Adamo were enjoying the occasion? He was lost in the crowd, quietly videoing the moment on his phone.

Little wonder Sordo remains gainfully employed by Hyundai Motorsport.