Sébastien Loeb has an indisputable claim to be the best rally driver of all time, having racked up the most championships and the most wins.
Since the Frenchman’s full-time arrival in the sport in 2003 he has taken every WRC title – except for his first full season when he was the runner-up by a single point. He did, though, defeat rally legends Carlos Sainz and Colin McRae in the same Citroën that year. All his nine subsequent victories have come with the French manufacturer in partnership with co-driver Daniel Elena.
Loeb began his sporting career in another field altogether, gymnastics, winning the Alsace championships four times. But he made the swap to life on four wheels in 1995 at the age of 21.
The Frenchman’s driving prowess is not limited to rallying. He came second at the Le Mans 24-Hour race in a Pescarolo-Judd in 2006. Loeb has also impressed during F1 testing, notably for the Red Bull team. He was due to race in the 2009 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix for Toro Rosso until a superlicence problem scuppered the bid. He is now pondering a switch to the World Touring Car Championship in 2014 as he scales back his world rally commitments.
He made up for his only WRC disappointment in 2003 by winning his first Race Of Champions crown. Loeb has since earned the ‘Champion of Champions’ title on two further occasions (2005 and 2008). Remarkably, he has reached the Grand Final on each of his seven visits to The Race of Champions. He also took victory for France alongside Jean Alesi in the ROC Nations Cup in 2004.
2012: Wins record ninth consecutive World Rally Championship
2009: Made a knight of the Légion D’Honneur in France
2008: Wins a record seventh consecutive Rallye Deutschland
2005: Loeb wins a record ten rallies including six in a row, another record
2005: Wins every single stage on the Tour de Corse
2004: Takes six wins and six second places en route to a WRC title win by 36 points
2002: First full WRC season with Citroën – took victory at the Rallye Deutschland
2001: Junior World Rally Champion
1995: Made switch from gymnastics to rallying
2010: Reaches his seventh final of the Race Of Champions