Loeb wins ninth - and last - WRC title


In winning a ninth consecutive World Rally Championship title, Sebastien Loeb proved very little indeed. We already knew he was the most successful driver of all time; a ninth crown simply makes the likelihood of his records ever tumbling all the more remote.

Novelty still hasn't worn off
Novelty still hasn't worn off
We have to look beyond rallying before we find any significance in his ninth title. Valentino Rossi currently boasts nine championships to his credit; if we include Loeb’s Junior World Rally Championship crown from 2001 (which is fair given that two of Rossi’s titles were achieved in feeder categories) the diminutive Frenchman can be adjudged to be motorsport’s most successful competitor.

Loeb won his home round of the WRC – Rallye de France – in typically assured fashion. Although the winning margin over Ford’s Jari-Matti Latvala was only 15.5 seconds, one does feel that Loeb managed the advantage and pushed only as hard as was necessary. Citroen team-mate Mikko Hirvonen finished in third position to help his team claim its eighth constructors’ title, while the familiarly impressive Thierry Neuville finished in fourth.

Can anybody catch Loeb? Seems not
Can anybody catch Loeb? Seems not
Much more significant than this being Loeb’s ninth title is that it’ll almost certainly be his last. The 38-year-old – who bleeds hydropneumatic suspension fluid if you cut him – announced a few days before the rally that he’ll only contest a part campaign next season. “I have to admit that I am a little tired of the schedule imposed by the World Rally Championship,” he said, ruling out a 2013 title bid. “I still love driving and winning. I'll still be around in 2013, but not as consistently as now, competing at rallies that I like and which are important for Citroen. I couldn’t not include Rallye Monte Carlo in my diary.”

Loeb will instead focus his energies on a World Touring Car Championship campaign – still with Citroen  – and we eagerly await further details of what promises to be an intriguing switch of discipline.

P.H. O'meter

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Comments (83) Join the discussion on the forum

  • Twincam16 10 Oct 2012

    CO2000 said:
    Twincam16 said:
    KaraK said:
    The lairy factor of the group B cars certainly gained the WRC a lot of spectator and manufacturer interest - it also arguably contributed to the deaths of 6 people and injured a couple of dozen more in the space of one season.
    Thing is, the spectator numbers didn't significantly decline when Group A replaced Group B. The dropoff seemed to occur when 'WRC' rules came in and the cars became silhouette things with bugger-all in common with road cars you could buy. The ballsup over the TV coverage didn't help either.
    + Big names stitting on the sidelines (or selected drives only) because they didn't have the budget behind them at the time (McRae & I'm sure there was others)
    Another reason which suggests to me that the new homologation-based classes are a good idea. If you only need to modify a car you can buy in a showroom, rather than having to get a silhouette car made in the works rally department, then costs will be lower.

  • CO2000 10 Oct 2012

    Twincam16 said:
    KaraK said:
    The lairy factor of the group B cars certainly gained the WRC a lot of spectator and manufacturer interest - it also arguably contributed to the deaths of 6 people and injured a couple of dozen more in the space of one season.
    Thing is, the spectator numbers didn't significantly decline when Group A replaced Group B. The dropoff seemed to occur when 'WRC' rules came in and the cars became silhouette things with bugger-all in common with road cars you could buy. The ballsup over the TV coverage didn't help either.
    + Big names stitting on the sidelines (or selected drives only) because they didn't have the budget behind them at the time (McRae & I'm sure there was others)

  • Twincam16 10 Oct 2012

    KaraK said:
    The lairy factor of the group B cars certainly gained the WRC a lot of spectator and manufacturer interest - it also arguably contributed to the deaths of 6 people and injured a couple of dozen more in the space of one season.
    Thing is, the spectator numbers didn't significantly decline when Group A replaced Group B. The dropoff seemed to occur when 'WRC' rules came in and the cars became silhouette things with bugger-all in common with road cars you could buy. The ballsup over the TV coverage didn't help either.

  • KaraK 10 Oct 2012

    The lairy factor of the group B cars certainly gained the WRC a lot of spectator and manufacturer interest - it also arguably contributed to the deaths of 6 people and injured a couple of dozen more in the space of one season.

  • D.no 09 Oct 2012

    ArnageWRC said:
    PascalBuyens said:
    Don't forget Stefan Everts too...
    Or Juha Salminen....
    Both are good shouts - especially Salminen with 13 World Championships to his name. I was being patriotic and ever so slightly biased (as a fellow Yorkshire lad) by suggesting Dougie Lampkin.

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