Two-time World Rally champion Carlos Sainz believes that both Petter Solberg and Dani Sordo will have a huge influence and play major roles in determining who wins the 2009 WRC drivers' title this season.
The World Rally Championship comes to Spain this weekend for the penultimate round of the 2009 campaign with BP Ford Abu Dhabi's Mikko Hirvonen leading Citroen's Sebastien Loeb by only five points, with only Rally GB to come after that.
"For sure Dani and Petter have massive roles to play,” Sainz stated ahead of the Rally de Espana. “Petter recently switched to a Citroen C4 and will be scoring points for Citroen now. He can be very, very fast and it's just a question of how quickly he adapts to his new set up.
"As for Dani, if I was him, at my home rally, I would be going flat out to win every stage and claim the win on the rally myself. This may not benefit Sebastien Loeb, and I would go slower if it was necessary and for the benefit of the team. I think tactics will play a part here this weekend."
So who will win the WRC drivers' title this year?
"It's tough for me to pick a winner. I have driven for both teams in the past so I am loyal to Ford and to Citroen equally - I have many good friends at each team. I believe it will not be about who is quicker, but about which driver makes the least mistakes,” Sainz added.
“Everybody knows Sebastien is fast on Spanish asphalt and Mikko is strong in GB - if that means they win one rally each then the pressure is on Sebastien because he is behind on points at the moment.
"I like the improvement of Mikko in the last few years, since he himself played the role of the 'second driver,' as Dani is this year. He has learnt and impressed, and has the talent to become World Champion.
“You have to pick Loeb to win in Spain though for obvious reasons. He knows the route so well and he has the kind of skills you need as a driver to do well on tarmac, but it's impossible to say who will win the overall title this year."
With an exciting end to the season in store, Sainz has also kept a keen eye on the WRC as a whole and likes the direction the sport is moving in.
"The new specification of cars in WRC has made the sport so attractive now - it is so spectacular to watch. What you have is a unique event in each different country that has its own individual character and challenges. It looks like the sport is really going from strength to strength," he summed-up.