The Federation Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA), motorsport's governing body, presented WRC drivers' champion Ott Tänak with his trophy, in a ceremony held at the Louvre, Paris, Friday evening. Tänak, 32, from Saaremaa, who clinched his maiden title with a race to spare at Rally Catalunya in late October, was joined on the stage by co-driver and fellow Estonian Martin Järveoja, who was also presented with his trophy.
Other cup winners at the event included British Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton, who won his sixth title this season, runners up Valtteri Bottas (Finland) and Max Verstappen (Netherlands), and Formula E world champion Jean-Eric Vergne (France).
Congratulations to the 2019 World Rally Champions @OttTanak / Martin Järveoja, the Manufacturers' World Rally Champion @HMSGOfficial and all 2019 FIA World Champions ???????? #FIAPrizeGiving2019 @fia #WRC #WRClive #WorldChampions pic.twitter.com/G6KWzr2C8C— World Rally Championship - WRC (@OfficialWRC) December 6, 2019
"It's a good feeling when you've been trying for a very, very long time - since childhood - and finally get that coveted title," Tänak said ahead of the awards ceremony, ERR's sports portal reports.
"Over the past few years we have come very close to that, and always been in the affray, but for various reasons we have not won. Now we have, a great burden has been lifted from my shoulders."
"It hasn't been the easiest journey," Tänak added.
"I've literally gone through a trial of fire and water. After all this fighting, it's great to win the world title," Tänak continued.
"Toyota was a young team at the beginning of last season, having only entered the series in 2017. We have made a great deal of progress in a couple of years."
Tänak also spoke about the significance of the win to Estonia.
"Estonia is a small country. It's difficult to build bridges to the big arenas. I've had enough luck, however. 15 years ago, [former Estonian rally driver] Marko Märtin blazed the trail for me. We have another young man, [Formula Three driver] Jüri Vips, who is very close to reaching a Formula One team, Tänak added.
Hyundai, who won the manufacturers' WRC title over Toyota and collected their trophy at the same event, will be Tänak and Järveoja's team for the 2020 season.
"I think we have a lot of talent, but it's hard to get a foot in the door … It's never easy to leave a team, especially one like Toyota, because we've had two good years together. It's always easier to stay where you are, but I have enough motivation to keep on progressing, and I want to strive for another world title...and more. I hope I have a good crack at Hyundai and I feel like this is a team to catch the next title [with]. "
Tänak has already tested with his new team. Next season starts in late January with Rally Monte Carlo.
Editor: Andrew Whyte