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Carlos Sainz, 2020 Princess of Asturias Award for Sports

16 Junio 2020

Rally driver Carlos Sainz has been granted the 2020 Princess of Asturias Award for Sports, as announced today by the Jury responsible for conferring said Award.

The Jury for the Award –convened by the Princess of Asturias Foundation– was chaired by Abel Antón Rodrigo and composed of Alejandro Blanco Bravo, Alberto Borregán Rodríguez, Vicente del Bosque González, Marquis of Del Bosque, Miguel Carballeda Piñeiro, Carlos Carpio Rodríguez, María Paz Corominas Guerin, Ernest Folch i Folch, Joaquin Folch-Rusiñol Corachán, Vicente Jiménez Navas, Joan Llaneras Roselló, Sylvana Mestre Alexandre, Santiago Nolla Zayas, Edurne Pasabán Lizarribar, Paloma del Río Cañadas, Juan Antonio Samaranch Salisachs, Sitapha Savané Sagna, Alberto Suárez Laso and Theresa Zabell Lucas (as acting secretary).

This candidature was put forward by Luis María Anson, 1991 Prince of Asturias Laureate for Communication and Humanities. It was seconded, among others, by Prince of Asturias Laureates for Sports Rafael Nadal (2008), Iker Casillas (2012) and Pau Gasol (2015), as well as by Jean Todt and Manuel Aviñó, presidents of the International and Spanish Automobile Federation, respectively.

Due to the health emergency caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the meeting was held online via video conference.

Carlos Sainz Cenamor (Madrid, April 12, 1962) started in the world of rallies in 1980, after being crowned Spanish Squash Champion in 1979. He won his first race, the Seat Panda Rally Cup, in 1981, followed by the Renault Beginners Cup in 1982 (in circuits). After abandoning his law studies, he decided to take up motorsports professionally.

Several times world champion, Carlos Sainz is considered one of the top rally drivers on the international scene. He also became the first Spaniard to win the Dakar Rally in the cars class in 2010, a feat he repeated in 2018 and 2020. With a career spanning more than three decades among the motorsport elite, Sainz marked an era by becoming the first non-Nordic driver to win the Rally Sweden and the Rally Finland. In 1983 and 1984, he combined rally and top-speed racing, and in 1985 finished runner-up in the Spanish Championship with Renault, also coming second the following year. In 1987, he signed for Ford, won the Spanish Rally Championship and participated in three World Rally races, as well as being crowned Spanish champion once again the following year.

In 1989, he participated in his first full season in the World Cup and became world champion for the first time in 1990 as a member of the Toyota team, winning four of the ten rallies in which he participated and coming second in four others. After finishing runner-up in the 1991 World Championship, he was once again crowned world champion in 1992, with four victories in the same number of rallies. He finished runner-up again in the 1994, 1995 and 1998 World Rally Championships and third in 1997, 2000, 2002 and 2003. In 2004, he garnered his 26th victory, coming first in the Rally Argentina, which made him the rally driver to have won the most rallies in the history of the world championship, beating the record set by British driver Colin McRae.

In all, Carlos Sainz has stepped up onto the podium 97 times in individual events. He announced his retirement in 2004, but months later returned to competition in the 2005 World Championship, retiring definitively in the Rally of Turkey, in which he finished fourth. In 2006, he competed in the Cross-Country World Cup and, the following year, he rounded off his record with a third world championship title, that of the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies.

Having participated several times in the Dakar Rally, in 2010 he came first in the cars class and, in 2018, at the age of 55, he managed to prevail for the second time in the toughest motorsport competition in the world, in an edition also marked by one of the most demanding routes in the history of the Dakar Rally and by the quality of his rivals, including nine-time world rally champion Sébastien Loeb and thirteen-time Dakar winner (six in cars and seven in motorcycles) Stéphane Peterhansel. He repeated the feat in 2020, the first time the Dakar was held in Asia, in Saudi Arabia.

Carlos Sainz is also involved in activities to support up-and-coming drivers through various initiatives, such as the creation in 2000 of the Carlos Sainz Junior Team, which for two years allowed young people chosen for their talent for the sport to compete without any cost.

In November 2004 he received a tribute in Madrid, attended by more than 100,000 people on a circuit through the streets of the capital. That year he also received the gold and diamond insignia of the Royal Spanish Automobile Federation (RFEDA). Among other honours, he has also received the Olympic Order of the Spanish Olympic Committee (1997), the Grand Cross of Spain’s Royal Order of Sporting Merit (2001), the French Youth and Sports Medal (2008) and the Premios Influentials award for his professional career (Spain, 2020). In 2012, he was inducted into the Rally Hall of Fame at the Mobilia Museum (Finland) and, in 2019, was inducted into the Rally Drivers Hall of Fame created by the Federation Internationale de l’Automovile (FIA).

As stated in the Regulations, the Princess of Asturias Awards are aimed at rewarding “the scientific, technical, cultural, social and humanitarian work carried out at an international level by individuals, institutions or groups of individuals or institutions”. In keeping with these principles, the Princess of Asturias Award for Sports shall be aimed at recognizing “careers which, via the promotion, fostering and advancement of sport and sense of solidarity and commitment, have become an example of the benefits that practising sports can bring to people.” This year, a total of 17 candidatures from 10 different countries were put forward for the award.

This is the fifth of eight Princess of Asturias Awards, which are being bestowed this year for the fortieth time. The Princess of Asturias Awards for Concord went to Spanish health workers on the front line against COVID-19, the Princess of Asturias Award for the Arts went to composers Ennio Morricone and John Williams, the Princess of Asturias Award for Communication and Humanities was granted to the Guadalajara International Book Fair and the Hay Festival of Literature & Arts, and the Princess of Asturias Award for Social Sciences went to Dani Rodrik. The rest of awards will be announced in the coming days in the following order: Literature, Technical and Scientific Research, and International Cooperation.

Carlos Sainz: "It is a source of pride and satisfaction for me to receive the Princess of Asturias Award and thus form part of such an outstanding list of laureates. I wish to thank the Foundation and all the members of the Jury, who have considered it appropriate to grant me this award, and to take this opportunity to also congratulate the rest of this year’s Laureates in the different categories. I do not wish to let pass the opportunity to likewise thank all the fans who have been supporting me for so many years, who also share in this award.”

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