By: Sam Bisby
It’s arguable that every sporting discipline has its master; Rodger Federer, Lionel Messi, Tiger Woods. Some are celebrated to the highest order around the world, but there’s always the odd individual that sometimes doesn’t always get the recognition they deserve.
Most people think of Michael Schumacher when asked about motorsport greats, and there’re by no means wrong to think of the German when it comes to being fastest on four or two wheels.
However, there is one man of this domain that is perhaps a little overlooked at times.
Sebastien Loeb is not only the current World Rally Champion, but the Frenchman has won the competition nine times in a row. Nine. Times.
From 2004 to 2012, no one could touch the 39-year-old Citroen driver; even when progressing through his inaugural title year, Loeb finished lower than second only two times out of 16 rally weekends, and out of 130 races during these nine years, he won 72 of them – a 55.8 per cent win ratio.
Originally a gymnast, Loeb has had a taste of pretty much any motorsport on offer to him, even performing numerous Formula 1 tests for both the old Renault team and Red Bull. These days, the Frenchman is a part timer on the WRC circuit, having won the opening round of the 2013 season in Monte Carlo and finishing runner-up in the following Rally of Sweden. During his semi-retirement from the sport, he has also tasted victory in the FIA GT Series and taken part in two Porsche Supercup races this year.
This week, Loeb is racing in his 168th and final rally in his home event at the Rally of France, where fellow countryman Sebastien Ogier has became the first new WRC champion since Petter Solberg in 2003.
So where next for the rally legend?
Well, in keeping with his Citroen affiliation, Loeb will next year partner compatriot and touring car god Yvan Muller in the 2014 World Touring Car Championship.
Loeb will swap his familiar Citroen DS3 WRC for the Citroen C-Elysee WTCC, which was recently revealed at September’s Frankfurt Motor Show. The C-Elysee will be powered by a turbocharged 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine that will produce a mighty 380bhp – the very same unit that has propelled his DS3 WRC car so successfully.
Combining Loeb’s talents for being able to handle any car with the touring car expertise of four-time WTCC champion Muller looks to have created an already formidable team. Muller looks set to win his fifth title by the end of the year, so the Citroen team will likely have the reigning champion going into the 2014 season, as well as the nine-time WRC victor and will no doubt provide quite the threat to the rest of the teams.
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