Carlos Sainz has been crowned the greatest driver in World Rally Championship history in a recent poll run by series organisers.
Champion of 1990 and 1992, Sainz beat nine-time World Champion Sebastien Loeb in the final vote which was cast late last week.
According to the official WRC website, more than 80,000 votes were cast in the final with a total tally exceeding 300,000 across the month-long tournament.
The result may come as a surprise to ardent rally supporters as Sainz’s achievements were shrouded by the likes of Loeb’s who can boast 79 round wins and nine back-to-back championships between 2004 and 2012.
But despite missing the silverware, Sainz ultimately recorded 57.28% of the final votes, something he says is a satisfying achievement on its own.
“I cannot be more happy and more proud about this recognition,” said Sainz. “Thank you very much for bringing me first to the final and, of course, secondly for allowing to me to win this recognition against Sebastien Loeb.
“I don’t need to tell you how much I rate Sebastien Loeb and how much he deserves to be the greatest. But I have to say not only him, all the world champions merit this recognition. But somebody has to win and, in this case, it has been myself.
“I gave everything to rallying. Rallying has been my life, rallying has been my dream and today rallying and the whole family of rallying is giving me a big smile and this big recognition.”
The 58-year-old celebrated his third Dakar Rally triumph earlier this year to put him third-equal on the event’s all-time car victory list and cemented his position as a true legend of the sport.
All 18 WRC champions since the introduction of the drivers’ world title in 1979 were included in the competition, as well as two wildcard drivers with fans voting in the knockout rounds after the last month.
Having been compelled to postpone events in Argentina and Italy, as well as cancel the running of this year’s Rally of Portugal, the 2020 WRC season currently remains in a stage of uncertain hiatus.
The Safari Rally of Kenya slated for July 16 – 19 remains set to host the next round of the 2020 season, though there are doubts over the running of the event due to the strict travel restrictions across Europe where most teams are based.