I could have won, says Sainz

Ford ace Carlos Sainz believes he had the pace to catch and beat World Rally Championship rival Tommi Makinen on this weekend's Safari Rally, had he not been forced to retire with engine trouble early in the second leg of the African event

I could have won, says Sainz

Sainz was the big name to leave the time sheets on the second leg of the rally and his absence leaves Makinen more than six minutes clear heading into the final day, but Carlos felt sure he had what it took to reel his rival in.

The double world champion started day two in second place, just over a minute and a half behind Makinen and with Ford team mate Colin McRae out on Friday with steering and clutch problems, it was left to the Spaniard to take the fight to the flying Finn.

Despite the gap to the Mitsubishi ace at the front, Sainz was confident that he could have made up the defecit to Makinen and even taken the lead. But it was not be, as a seized engine in his Focus WRC on the first section of the day made him an unwilling addition to the list of retirements.

"About three kilometres into the stage we started to slow for an animal in the road," said Sainz, "and the engine dropped onto three cylinders and then stalled. The cam belt timing had jammed and seized the engine we think.

"It's very disappointing because we were going really well and I thought we could fight with Tommi and win here."

Makinen is currently tied for the lead of the championship with McRae on 30 points, with Sainz in second just four behind. With both Ford drivers out, and Makinen currently so far ahead in Africa, the way is left clear for the Finn to take a 10-point lead in the standings.

For full live timings table click here.

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