Date of Birth:26 Feb 74
FIA Championship Titles:JWRC 2001, WRC 2004 - 2012
WRC Rally Starts:164
WRC Rally Wins:76
Frenchman Sebastien Loeb’s achievements so far make him easily the sport’s most successful competitor. A career total of 76 WRC wins (by the end of 2012) puts him streets ahead of the man in second place with 30, Marcus Gronholm, while no one has come anywhere near Loeb’s record of nine consecutive drivers titles: Tommi Makinen has come closest with four. But for Loeb it certainly isn’t over yet. And the fact that he is still at the peak of his career suggests that more rally wins are on their way, if not the overall title in 2013 (he will only compete in four events).
Born in the Alsace region of France in 1974, Loeb excelled initially as a gymnast before turning his attention to motor sport in 1995. He contested the French Citroen Saxo Trophy in 1998 and won the title in 1999, which brought him to the attention of Citroen Sport team principal, and career mentor, Guy Frequelin. With help from the French Motorsport Federation, the FFSA, in 1999 Loeb made his WRC debut in a Citroen Saxo Kit Car on the Rallye Catalunya and over the next two seasons built up his WRC experience, mainly in Saxos, but also with two FFSA supported appearances in a Toyota Corolla in 2000.
In 2001 he underlined his potential by finishing second in a guest appearance in a factory Xsara WRC on Rally Sanremo. Frequelin signed Loeb to the fledgling Citroen WRC team in 2002 and Loeb took his first WRC win that year on Rallye Deutschland. In 2003 he won three rallies and missed out on his first world title by only one point. The next year, however, Loeb really got into his groove. He won six rallies in 2004 and was crowned World Champion. In 2005 he won it again and became the only driver to win ten rallies in a season. Title number three came in 2006, at the wheel of a Kronos-run Xsara while Citroen took a year out from competition to develop the Xsara’s replacement, the C4. Despite missing three rallies after falling from his mountain bike and breaking his arm, Loeb’s eight other rally wins were enough to secure him the title.
In 2007, Loeb was back with Citroen Sport driving the new C4 WRC. Although it was a new car, this didn’t get in the way of the Frenchman as he drove to a fourth consecutive crown. Unfortunately for the competition, 2008 turned out to be another vintage year for Loeb, who broke his own record for wins in one season by taking 11 - including Finland and Wales Rally GB, which to that point had remained the two ‘classic’ rallies he hadn’t cracked.
His 2009 title was a less easy ride. After a storming start to the season, and five wins from five rallies, Loeb suffered a run of uncharacteristically bad luck. A time penalty in Sardegna was followed by a high-speed roll in Greece, and then an accident in Poland which broke his car's front subframe. The season that had started so well ended with a last round scrap with championship leader, Mikko Hirvonen. Loeb's eleventh hour victory in Wales secured him the title by a single point - the narrowest winning margin since 2006.
In 2010, normal service was resumed, with eight wins out of a possible 13. He achieved a 100 per cent scoring record for the first time, making the season his most consistent yet.
The 2011 season saw Loeb’s biggest issue not being a competitor, but a team mate. He had an intra-team battle with Sebastien Ogier, which resulted in the latter leaving Citroen at the end of the year.
In 2012, there was little drama from either competitors or team mates. His ninth title seemed likely within a couple of rallies, as the heart seemed to go out of rival Ford’s corporate WRC effort.