It has now been 10 years since a driver not name Sebastien Loeb has won the WRC drivers crown. Petter Solberg took that honour in the 2003, with the Prodrive Subaru team. Which I remember watching sector times online in lieu of proper tv coverage. It was a different game back then. Colin McRae, Carlos Sainz, Richard Burns, Marcus Gronholm, Markko Martin, Tommi Makkinen, Gilles Panizzi, Harri Rovenpara, Francois Duval, Didier Auriol, Toni Gardemeister, Freddy Loix and the aforementioned Solberg and Loeb were involved in a great season. The large competitive fields are now long gone. Brought on by Leob’s dominance perhaps? To put it into perspective he’s won 74 rallies, Gronholm (#2 on the list) has won just 30. 9 titles compared to Juha Kankkunan and Makkinens 4. He has more titles than Sainz, McRae, Gronholm, Vatanan and Rohrl…..COMBINED. Jebus.
Not all of his titles were not all easy though. Having lost the 2003 title by one point. He won another 2 by that same margin. and 2 MORE with very small margins. This years campaign will be Loebs last full season. He’ll still come back and presumably win the 2013 Monaco rally though and other select rallies next year. He’s just taking it easy. It’s also been rumoured Citroen and Loeb will compete in the WTCC for 2014. Let’s hope and see.
For the 2013 season, the feild is as follows. Citroen will run Mirko Hirvonen and Dani Sordo (why they chose Sordo over Mads Ostberg is beyond me), Khalid Al Qassimi, Thierry Neuiville (as thier junior driver) and select rounds for Loeb, VW will run Sebastien Ogier and Jari Matti Latvalla. (On a side note, Sebastiens have made their mark on the racing scene the last 10 years, Loeb, Vettel and Bourdais.) Ford has dropped tier official factory support of the M-Sport run team. Their intentions are still unknown. Mini does not have factory support but their car is now fully homoligated, with rumours of Prodive feilding a 2 car team. And Hyundai will feild their i20 for select rounds. So all in all 3 Factory teams with 3 drivers at a shot for the title. Hirvonen, Latvala and Ogier. I’ll predict a Ogier title due to driver errors from both Finns. Works teamsare a far cry from 2003 when, Peugeot, Subaru, Citroen, Ford, Mitsibishi, Skoda, Seat, Hyundai all had full factory efforts. I think the WRC needs a full overhaul. Much like Indycar, though that was in a far dire straight.
That decay should not hide Loebs decadence. He has re written the record book in not only WRC but has changed the racing world forever. Nine fucking titles in a row. Makkinens 4 seemed impossible to beat only a few years prior to his reign. Schumacher has done 5, Johnson 5, Bourdais 4. All now seem insignificant to NINE. We will never witness the likes of this again.
I don’t know what he’s saying but it showcases all of Loeb’s previous rally cars..