Sebastien Loeb explains costly mistake
Seven-time defending World Rally Champion Sebastien Loeb has admitted fault for his spectacular early exit from today’s opening leg of Rally Australia.
The Citroen Racing driver rolled his DS3 multiple times after sliding into a bank on the first stage this morning.
Loeb said he had been distracted by reading a split time from his dash – a task normally completed by co-driver Daniel Elena.
Reflecting on the incident, Loeb also noted the difficulty of driving in slippery conditions on the category-mandated hard compound gravel tyre.
“The conditions were really difficult,” said the Frenchman.
“It’s what I said since the start of that rally – driving with the hard tyres in these conditions is very difficult, sometimes you lose control of the car and you cannot keep it.
“But for me it was more a problem of concentration. I saw a split time on the dash. I look at it, and when I saw the corner it was a bit too late.
“It was just that I saw the split time, I told to Daniel ok I saw it, and that was just a loss of concentration.
“Then I arrive just on the corner, braking a little bit too late – I saw the corner just a little bit too fast, hit the bank and we rolled.”
Loeb, who entered this weekend’s rally with a 25 point advantage over team-mate Sebastien Ogier in the championship standings, denied he had been pushing too hard in the slippery conditions.
“I was not taking risks and I had done a very clean stage before that,” said Loeb.
“I was looking at something when I saw the corner too late.”
Loeb hopes to rejoin the event under the SupeRally rules tomorrow morning.
See below for spectacular onboard footage of the crash
See below for Speedcafe.com’s Rally Australia Race Guide