That’s it, this year’s WRC champion is named Sébastien, as it has been for the last 10 years. Just a minor change this time round, though, as his last name is Ogier, and not Loeb. Seems apt then, that the semi-retired, nine-time world rally champion Loeb handed over his crown to fellow Frenchman Ogier in the Rally of France.
Sébastien Ogier, his co-driver Julien Ingrassia and the Volkswagen Polo R WRC won their maiden championship title in style, the combination winning seven out of the 11 WRC rounds so far this season. Wins in Sweden, Mexico, Portugal, Italy, Finland, Australia and now France have put them beyond anyone’s reach with two rounds to spare.
Loeb, meanwhile, had a disappointing weekend in his final WRC outing. In with a shout of winning his home event, he crashed out of the rally on the last day. That’s just a minor blip in an otherwise glorious WRC career that includes nine driver’s championships, 78 event victories, 116 podiums, 896 stage wins and 1619 points – all all-time record highs.
In the WRC 2 class, former F1 star Robert Kubica dominated the Rally of France to take his fourth win this season. He led the class by more than three minutes by the end, and the Pole is now on the verge of clinching the WRC 2 championship title in his Citroen DS3. A second place would seal his triumph in the next round in Spain.
Already Kubica is rumoured to join the flagship Citroen WRC team next year, apart from taking part in the brand’s WTCC programme alongside Loeb. It’s not quite the Formula 1 dream he seemed destined to achieve before his horrific career-ending (or so everyone thought) accident in 2011, but as far as comebacks go, his would rival that of the legendary Alex Zanardi.
With Sebastian Vettel already a shoe-in to become Formula 1 world champion again, it looks like the Seb era is set to continue for the next foreseeable future.