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GP Week : Issue 36
> AWARDS> WRC: Sebastien Loeb PUT blandly, Sebastien Loeb, with his co-driver Daniel Elena, are the most successful competitors that World Championship rallying has ever seen, and the records keep rolling in. This year they won the World Championship for the fifth time, an unprecedented achievement, and leading up to the final event this year they had already scored their 10th rally win, equalling their own record, set in 2005. They are heading for a remarkable 50th World Rally win overall, and have achieved a far higher win- per-event ratio than anyone in rallying history. What makes Loeb and Elena so special is not their statistics, but the way that their success has arrived. It is the successful harmony of crew, car and team, and in previous years the Michelin tyres. Weakness on the part of any of these components would deny success; no chain is stronger than the weakest link. MArtin Loeb’s connection with Citroen goes back further than when he joined the official World Championship team. It was at the wheel of a Citroen Saxo Kit Car that he first competed on a World Championship rally in 1999, and in a Citroen Saxo Super 1600 that he won his first FIA ward, the Super 1600 title. Sebastien came to motorsport from another realm, gymnastics. His agility in gymnastics showed just how much his body balance and reactions have become natural and served to win him awards and acclaim. It was a mental and physical approach that served to make him mentally unbeatable in later years in motorsport. But it was the controlled power of his mind, coupled HolMes rallies editor with his determination to win, that marked him out to be really special. His powers of concentration brought him the ability to avoid driving errors and to think through challenges as they emerged. It was this power that enabled him to gain the most out of the Pirelli control tyres this year. Facing challenges no sooner than anyone else, but learning how to overcome them before the others. It seems only yesterday that the FFSA arranged for him to drive a Toyota Corolla World Rally Car on the 2000 Tour de Corse and Sanremo Rallies, success that launched into the challenge for the Super 1600 programme in 2001, and then full time activity in the official Citroen team in 2002. Once he started driving Citroen’s big rally cars his results soon started to arrive, the first two times he finished second, within a year he won the Rallye Deutschland, the rally that geographically was closest to WHAT a year this has been! Just when I thought that we had discovered everything which we needed to know about 2008 came the news that we had won the GPWeek rallying award as well! Normally we would complain that the people who make these decisions know very little about our work. The embarrassing thing for me about this award is that the people who voted were our colleagues in Formula 1 and MotoGP. It looks like there is nothing very much I can say, except hi guys, your faith in me is appreciated! GPWeek.com has opened up a huge new arena in the media work in motorsport, and it has been interesting to see how quickly the project became part of the motorsport scene. It is something different and important at a time when the sport in general, and the FIA World Rally Championship in particularl, needs new and exciting projects. And, typical to the philosophy of its staff, the GPWeek award was an original idea in itself. I want to thank everybody who has helped us not only this year but also in the past. Rallying is even more of a team sport than Formula 1 and MotoGP, because there are two of us in the car. But rally sport is more than just two people travelling at speed. Success is just as much the manifestation of the excellence of the team and the car. It means that I am happy to accept the GPWeek.com Most Impressive WRC Driver Award on behalf of Citroen Sport and all the people working there who designed the car, and my ever faithful co-driver Daniel Elena. Many thanks! – SEBASTIEN LOEB 31 his original home across the border in Alsace. Loeb’s contract with Citroen takes him to the end of 2009, and after that he still has no vision of which way his career will go. Rallying is not his sole passion. He has enjoyed racing, sharing a car that finished second place at Le Mans, and through the largesse of the team’s sponsor Total, testing a Renault Formula 1 car sponsored by their associated company Elf. But it is a partnership. Elena is a driver-turned-co-driver that directs them on the path to success. It is over five years since Elena was spotted making an error, almost a lifetime in this business. Sebastien has sailed through the turbulent waters of motorsport politics without distraction, has enjoyed some wonderful battles with his arch rival Marcus Gronholm before the Finn retired from the sport, and above all, been a true ambassador for the sport. opinion