The same could not be said for 2006, when he clinched his third world crown 15,000 kilometres away from where the action was unfolding in Perth, Western Australia. Not that it was intentional.
With four rounds of the 2006 season remaining, Loeb was seemingly in the clear in the title chase. Then he fell off his mountain bike, fractured his upper arm and was ruled out of the closing rounds of the championship.
In his absence, Ford driver Marcus Gronholm knew that by winning the remaining events of the year he could snatch the title from under Loeb’s nose.
By taking victory in Turkey, Gronholm got his late-season bid off to the best of starts. Then disaster. On the very next round in Australia he went off the road on the opening day. Although he fought back, he couldn’t gain the six points needed to keep the title race alive. Cue celebrations from a clinic specialising in sports injuries in southwest France where Loeb was recuperating.
“It was strange not being in Australia fighting for the race,” Loeb said at the time via a satellite video link (pictured). “I woke up at 4am to watch the splits and it was a great moment when I knew I was champion. I sent a friendly text message to Marcus to thank him for the competition. He answered that it was fair and that I deserved this title.”
Members of Loeb’s Kronos Racing team, which ran Loeb’s Citroen Xsara WRC that season while the factory team concentrated on developing the C4 WRC, joined in the celebrations at the service park in Perth where they had set up a webcam for the closing stages of the rally.
“Sebastien called me before the penultimate stage and I explained the situation,” said Kronos boss Marc van Dalen. “It was a perfect feeling for all the team to try to talk to him although it was strange because we wanted to be able to touch him.”