Some more celebrated Citroens

We’re worried that not enough is being done to commemorate the achievements of Sébastien Loeb, Daniel Elena and Citroën in achieving a decade of success at the highest levels of the sport.

Remember all the presentations from Pele and Kimi being in the lavatory when Michael Schumacher retired? Exactly. All the fuss and palaver that’s greeted the likes of André Agassi or Dennis Wise when they’ve called time on their professional careers – with none of the same level of success to their credit that Loeb can claim.

So, in desperation, here are some celebrated Citroëns from the celebrity world. Perhaps the grafting of that veneer of celebrity onto the old double chevron will make people sit up and take notice of what remains a fantastic sporting achievement.

Or you could just look here at that incomparable career!

Pixie Lott and her thighs starred with a DS3 in one of their pop videos


Patrick Jane a.k.a. ‘The Mentalist’ drives a classic DS, you know…


Pay attention, 007. LOL. Ah, the carefree days of Roger Moore in a 2CV…


French movie hero Fantomas had a flying DS


BBC disaster ‘Candy Cabs’ gave Berlingo taxis a bad name




A dozen years in the making… Loeb’s astonishing success

So he’s done it. With the 75th WRC victory of his astonishing career, Sébastien Loeb has ensured his ninth consecutive drivers’ championship – with Daniel Elena taking the honours as co-driver for the ninth time and Citroën taking its eighth manufacturers’ crown.

This is not news, of course.

We had all been expecting this result, and once the rally proper got underway on Saturday morning, Loeb did what was needed and built towards the magic 30-second cushion. At the halfway point this was done – not even Colin McRae at his feistiest ever thought that a 30s gap was surmountable if both cars were running well.

The 2012 Rallye de France-Alsace became yet another tour-de-force and thereafter the hyperbole began to spout – as did the detractors who claim that Loeb can’t be compared to (insert the name of your preferred 1970s-1990s icon here) because of the lack of competition in the sport during his reign.

Well… yes and no.

The WRC has crumbled during Loeb’s reign, with only Ford offering any meaningful resistance at all from 2006. But let us not forget that in his early years, Loeb was thrown into the lion’s den.

Astonishing pace defeated all the big names – if not the rules! – on 2002 Monte

The biggest and most successful names of the previous generation may have been getting long in the tooth but the likes of Sainz, McRae, Burns, Makinen, Grönholm, Delecour, Auriol and Panizzi were all very much active when the ‘boy wonder’ appeared in their midst. Loeb even had both Sainz and McRae as team-mates in 2003 and outpaced them both.

Those who say that the WRC became boring in the Loeb/Citroën era also have a point, although that is no fault of the competitors. From the high water mark of seven manufacturers doing battle in 1999-2000 it fell to six in 2001, five in 2004, three in 2006 and two in 2009.

There are also many who decry the metronomic precision with which Loeb and Elena applied themselves to the job – that a scientific, calculated approach is an anathema to going sideways through forests at 100mph. Well, yes, but the thing is that inspirational drivers seldom achieve as much as they should.

2006 title secured with privateer Kronos effort – and a broken arm!

In F1 Ronnie Peterson, Gilles Villeneuve and Jean Alesi won hearts but seldom races and never titles. In rallying Markku Alén never won a pukka world championship and neither did Henri Toivonen. Colin McRae was too inconsistent too repeat his 1995 title despite all the efforts of first Subaru and then Ford.

Pace is one thing, but control is quite another.

Being able to drive within the limits of yourself and your car and still be so far ahead of rivals of the calibre of, say, Marcus Grönholm in the course of season after season, on snow, asphalt and gravel and all the many permutations of the WRC calendar… that is undeniably special.

Four titles came at the wheel of the Citroën C4 WRC

That is why WRF joins the salute to our record-breaking world champion as he seals what might just be his last WRC title. We hope not, because we’re a bit anally retentive and 10 titles is a much better number to retire with than nine.

Perhaps that’s how Seb is going to make it more of a challenge next year – he won the title in 2006 despite missing the last four rounds, so why not skip a few more and still clean up on awards night? After all, when you look at what Loeb has achieved – and Elena and Citroën – it goes far beyond any rational argument to say that it can’t happen.

Loeb holds records for the most championships, rally wins, stage wins, podium finishes and points in WRC history – records of towering achievement that it will take almost a decade for a similarly-accomplished driver to match. To do so would mean the sort of skill that has delivered only 25 retirements from 162 starts, and aside from Loeb, that’s a statistic nobody has achieved.

When you look at it that way, you can only wonder where the likes of Mikko Hirvonen, Petter Solberg and Jari-Matti Latvala have even found the willpower to turn up and offer any sort of resistance over the past few years. They were in the best place to know that, when it comes to Loeb, resistance is futile.

Leaping into the history books in 2012

Félicitations, champion des champions – et bonne chance à l’avenir.

Go Compare!

With the countdown underway to the end of Sébastien Loeb’s time at the top of the WRC tree as a full-time world champion, let’s spare a thought for the man who has been at his side throughout: Daniel Elena.

Elena has become no less of an icon in many ways, having developed the unique style of creating and delivering pace notes in a way that has baffled many – and outpaced nearly all. The way in which Elena reads the road to Loeb was startlingly different: it has consistently given Loeb an advantage which saw him rise to stardom through a field that included the likes of Mäkinen, Sainz, McRae, Burns, Solberg, Märtin, Grönholm et al

So while we may miss the silky smooth skills of the man at the wheel, let us also raise a cheer for Daniel with his sing-song Monegasque tones that have guided the way to glory for almost a decade. With Loeb now aiming to go and race touring cars, we have to wonder what Daniel do now… oh no. Hold on…

Daniel Elena. Allegedly.