Record-breaking, recently re-crowned five-time World Rally Champion Sébastien Loeb has confessed that he hadn't even been bidding to win Wales Rally GB earlier this month – an event on which he finally triumphed for the first time in eight attempts.
Trailing Ford's Jari-Matti Latvala for the majority of proceedings, the Frenchman looked set to add the runner-up position to his four previous podiums in the Welsh forests, but a late spurt – safe in the knowledge that the Blue Oval could no longer pip Citroën to manufacturers' glory – would prove enough for him to overhaul his Finnish rival on the last day and finally inscribe his name on the event's winner's trophy.
“At the start of the rally I wasn't aiming to win,” the 34-year-old confessed, speaking to Crash.net Radio
. “I just wanted to finish on the podium for the manufacturers' championship, but finally it all went well.
“For sure it was very difficult driving conditions – very tricky and dangerous – but of course it was good to win.”
Admitting that his favourite championship success will remain his first one back in 2004, Loeb affirmed that he will be endeavouring to make it six in a row next year, and he certainly entered the winter in style, by defeating recently-retired Red Bull Racing Formula 1 star David Coulthard to lift the title of Champion of Champions during Wembley Stadium's annual end-of-season Race of Champions extravaganza – despite having gone out in the first round of the Nations' Cup alongside compatriot and 2008 World Touring Car Champion Yvan Muller.
“Yeah, it was short!” he had quipped of the nations' challenge and ahead of the individual battle. “We did only one loop and it was finished! That means that for sure I will have a disadvantage in the next competition to decide the Race of Champions.”
As he has proved throughout his career, though, disadvantages are no barrier to glory for Sébastien Loeb…
by Russell Atkins