Ford team boss in awe of Loeb mastery

Sebastien Loeb (right) with co-driver Daniel Elena after winning their home rally last year

Sebastien Loeb (right) with co-driver Daniel Elena after winning their home rally last year

Ahead of Sebastien Loeb’s return to the World Rally Championship M-Sport boss Malcolm Wilson has revealed what he sees as the secrets to the Frenchman’s success.

A little more than a week away from what could be Loeb’s final World Rally Championship event at the French round of the WRC, Wilson says that the nine-times world champion has an uncanny ability ‘play himself into’ rallies.

In an interview with WRC.com Wilson says that Loeb’s primary attribute is his completeness as an all-rounder on any type of surface.

“He’s won on every surface possible and has always had the speed. But for me, the most important thing is the way that he’s managed his rallies and, in fact, his whole career,” Wilson said of Loeb who has only done selected WRC events this season.

“He’s totally unflappable and pressure just doesn’t seem to faze him. Many times he’d set off and Marcus (Gronholm) would take maybe six seconds off him on the first stage, and we’d think ‘yes!’ but by stage three he’d be back level again.

“He had a special way of playing himself into each rally, as well as consistency and that ability to cope with pressure.”

Wilson, who operates his Cumbria-based squad of Ford Fiestas, says his personal all-time great was the German Walter Rohrl but Loeb now occupies that place.

Rohrl won two world championships in a career that that spanned from 1973-1987 for a variety of marques including Porsche, Fiat, Opel, Lancia and Audi.

“He’s (Loeb) my all time number one. It used to be Walter Rohrl, but then, sadly, his achievement was way surpassed. To win nine consecutive championships is incredible.”

Wilson said one of his fondest memories of Loeb were the battles with Gronholm.

“The memories for me are the fantastic battles that he and Marcus had, especially on Rally New Zealand (2007) when Marcus won by .3s,” Wilson continued.

 

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