First things first, Sebastian Loeb has dominated rallying for so long that he has made Michael Schumacher’s dominance of Formula One in the early 00’s look like child’s play. He picked up where he left off in 2013 by winning the Monte Carlo rally and further asserting his dominance over the sport. However during the same rally another Frenchman, driving for one of the biggest manufacturers in the world today, made all the headlines.
Sebastien Ogier gave VW and their WRC Polo a debut podium by finishing second in the Rally of Monte Carlo. However with Loeb only committing to select rounds of the WRC many expected Ogier to win the title by forfeit. The Citroen/Loeb combination was about to lose their monopoly over the championship by default.
Then came the Rally of Sweden, where Ogier went one better and gave VW their first win as a fully fledged manufacturer in only their second event. The truly remarkable aspect of this feat is the fact that he beat Loeb fair and square on pure pace.
It is disappointing that Loeb and Ogier will not go head to head through the course of this championship. Though Mikko Hirvonen will lead the Citroen charge from Mexico onwards, realistically the French pair remains a cut above the competition. In fact their closest rival after 2 rallies is Mads Ostberg running in the privately run Qatari backed Ford a whopping 19 points behind.
Loeb has won 9 consecutive championships from 2003 through to last year. There is no doubt that he will go down as probably rallying’s greatest of all time, however with Ogier and VW proving to be more than up to the challenge, this year will surely go down as an asterisk in the careers of both men.
If only Loeb had given it one more year…