In 2012, this driver was elected Best Sportsman of the Year, according to France’s most famous sports magazine L'Equipe. His unmatchable success, humility and harmonious family life may be the reasons for his popularity. In interviews, the sportsman regularly mentions Haguenau, his hometown village in Alsace, one of the most traditional and charming regions of France.
Sebastien Loeb also managed to make the rally popular among women, which was no small feat for what is usually considered to be a sexist sport. He is famous for rallying with Séverine, his wife, and for us, he’s a role model in terms of gender equality.
Pikes Peak Run, 2013
Altitude: 4,000 meters
Average speed: 145 km/h
Breaking Time record: 8m 13.878s
Dare to challenge this racing record… on your Xbox! Sebastien Loeb races for real, and most often to victory. From 2004 to 2012, he won the World Rally Championship every year. That makes a total of 9 world titles, and 76 WRC victories.
When you think of it, what happened on our planet between 2004 and 2012? The European Union expanded by 10 countries. the Huygens probe landed on one of Saturn’s moons. Kosovo declared independence. Pratibha Patil became the first woman to be elected President of India. The iPhone was launched. The large Hadron Collider nearly created a black hole...while Sebastien Loeb raced on and on.
Image by cmonville (CC BY 2.0)
Sebastien Loeb's driving style is described as smooth and mathematical. Clean. Every bend is geometrically anticipated.
There’s definitely less skidding than when you play Gran Turismo 4!
Three driving anecdotes:
1. in 1998, at the dawn of his career, Sebastien smashed a car into a bend. Unfortunately, the car was not insured. He said he hit a roebuck. His business angel (sponsor) decided to keep financing the young driver. By the way, there never was any deer -- Sebastien’s car had just slipped on gravel.
2. Flip record. In 2009, Sebastien's car loses a wheel and rolls over--eight times. Sympa!
3. In Portugal, Sebastian’s co-driver announces a bend on the right, but Sebastien turns the wheel to the left. The car rolls over so violently that they can’t get back on the circuit. C'est bête...
A Story of Engineering
Sebastien Loeb is not only a story of driving; his is a story of engineering. Sebastien Loeb won each one of his gold medals with a Citroën car (Citroën is one of Europe’s largest car manufacturers). Citroën Racing is the French leader in sport cars. The vehicle attracts hundreds of young engineers from around the world, and working at the company is reputed to be an amazing experience.
I actually met one of Citröen Racing's engineers. I was taking the train from Nantes to Paris and we were sitting in the same row of seats. I told him about my job. He told me about his, and about Sebastien Loeb. At that time, I didn't know Sebastien Loeb.
“Sebastien quoi?” I asked (blushing) when he first pronounced his name.
He turned his widened eyes at me and replied, “Tu connais pas Sebastien Loeb?!”
...To what I repeated “Sebastien qui?”
“Sebastien Loeb. Le coureur de rally!” he grinned.
I have never forgotten his name since that day. This engineer had come from Lebanon to make his childhood dream come true: design cars. And he did it for the rally Champion, at Citroën. We had a long conversation about the Citroën racing industry, and I realised how important this sector was for the French industry. May it last!
A few days ago [as of this writing], the media announced that Sebastien Loeb would run his last rally on October 3-6th, 2013. He will end his remarkable career in rallying in Alsace, Haguenau, his hometown where it all started. The driver has chosen to finish his career in full glory. Ma Ligne de Conduite, his autobiography, is available in every French bookshop. Now I know what to get my sister-in-law for Christmas.
Thank you Sebastien for driving us so far, so fast!
Image by Thesupermat (CC-BY-SA-3.0), via Wikimedia Commons
Article Edited by Ilene Springer
Hero Image by kyn_chung (CC BY-ND 2.0)