Sebastien Loeb has expressed his pleasure after concluding the season and more or less his rallying career with a win in Spain.
Loeb was always going to be one of, if not, the favourite going to Rally de Espana, but the weather on the opening day threatened to produce an upset. However the Frenchman fought back on day two and after day one leader, Mads Ostberg, lost over a minute in the second stage on Saturday, the Citroen pilot surged to the fore to take his eighth win in succession on the Spanish event and conclude the season in the same way as he started it, with a victory.
“I feel okay,” Loeb replied when asked about his feelings at the finish of an event which marked the end of his full-time WRC career. “It's the last rally of the season and I really wanted to win it – I've won it eight times in a row. I didn't want to lose the last one!
“For sure, the situation is a bit strange to know that I won nine titles in a row and have now decided to retire. It's strange, but on the other side I know I still have some rallies next year and some more plans with Citroen in some other discipline. I don't feel the career is finished and that I'm old and need to retire.”
Loeb was never headed once he took the lead on day two, but despite building a 30-odd second cushion, he saw that margin slashed to just 7 seconds at the finish and he conceded it wasn't an 'easy win'.
“It was really a difficult one. Since they put the gravel in it's more difficult and this time with the weather, the first day was really tricky. I was happy to be second and still on the road on Friday. There were one hundred corners where you could go off the road,” he explained. “I was satisfied, but when we came to the tarmac, it wasn't easy [there either]. And then today we had some difficult tyre choices – it's been a very difficult rally. There was no big pressure and finally at the end we are at the front, but only by seven seconds from Jari-Matti, who was pushing really hard all weekend.”
Loeb also revealed that despite his decision to step back and do only probably 3-5 events next season, he won't have much time to put his feet up before Monte Carlo, one of the events he will definitely do in 2013.
“Citroen wants to make me work until the end of the season. I do some tests on gravel, I'm not sure why... until Christmas we have a lot to do,” he added.
Loeb's final words meanwhile were for his team: “A big thank you to everyone,” he said on the team radio at the finish. “I'm pleased to end the season and more or less my rallying career with a win. Once again, we had to fight to get the win, as the unpredictable weather didn't really make our task any easier.
“We'll all enjoy this result together. Thank you, thank you for everything we've experienced together.
“This marks the close of one chapter, but we've another ahead of us that is about to begin...”