Having most recently won the drivers’ championship back in 1992, Sainz was back among the title contenders in 1998. Through the first twelve rallies of the season, the Spaniard had finished in the points in all but one rally, retiring in Kenya.
It was somewhat appropriate then, that he was set to be rewarded for his consistency, as the finish line in the final rally of the season, Network Q Rally of Great Britain, beckoned. In fact, with championship leader Tommi Mäkinen retired, all Sainz needed to do was maintain the fourth position he was taking into the 27.09km final stage of the year, Margam, to be crowned world champion.
However, what took place instead will go down in the history books as one of the cruelest occurrences, not only in rally, but in sport in general. Watch the drama unfold in this week’s WRC+ Focus, which takes a look back on the 1998 season.