Think of the number of kilometres that a WRC driver covers over the year; remember that most of them are on ordinary roads - with plenty of excitable spectators around - rather than special stages, and the surprise is that it doesn’t actually happen more often.
Loeb himself provided the succinct explanation for the accident with some Spanish fans in a hire car that put him out - “we are in Wales and the people in the car were not Welsh” - but of course Loeb isn’t Welsh either, and the coming-together certainly wasn’t his fault.
The fact that such an incident is so rare in the WRC just underlines the talent of the sport’s top drivers and their important role as ambassadors for road safety.
Loeb took the final twist in an intriguing tale with good grace, even humour, but it would probably have been a different story if the collision had cost Loeb the championship. If Mikko Hirvonen were still running, that would almost certainly have been the case.
Hirvonen was doing everything he needed to in order to win the title when he went off, but the difference between him and Loeb is that the Finn was slightly outside of his comfort zone while he was doing it - with foreseeable results. In the last few rallies a lot of criticism has been heaped on Hirvonen, most of it unfair, because he’s an incredibly fast rally driver. He’s just not quite as fast as Sebastien Loeb, or to be more accurate, he has to keep taking unsustainable risks in order to beat him.
If you ask Loeb what the secret to eight titles, 67 victories and 808 stage wins (all records) is, he’ll tell you that there isn’t one - but the one thing he does do is try to drive within his limits. What happens when he drives out of those limits are practically miracles: such as his inexorable charge back up the leaderboard in New Zealand last year after hitting a bridge parapet - where on one stage alone he went fastest by 14.5 seconds. Or Corsica in 2005, when he won the rally by claiming every single stage.
That’s why he is champion again, and in the various twists of fate and metal that characterised this year’s Wales Rally GB, it’s almost easy to forget that. Having signed another Citroen contract for two years, Loeb is well placed for more success, as the strong likelihood is that some of his rivals will have to get used to new environments.
In emotional circumstances the truth often slips out and when Hirvonen was asked about his future immediately after retiring he said: “For now the team still has a job to do. Then next week we’ll see.” This hints strongly that there is something to see about this week, with the word on the street being that Hirvonen and Sebastien Ogier have driven their last rallies for Ford and Citroen respectively. Yet with only a couple of different scenarios, the story could have been quite different - and that’s what makes the sport so fascinating.