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Sebastien Loeb becomes the world’s most successful rally driver

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September 5, 2006

Image Gallery (11 images)

September 6, 2006 When Sebastien Loeb narrowly held out Marcus Gronholm to win the Rally of Japan last Sunday, he became the most successful rally driver in history. His 27th career victory edged the double World Rally Champion past former Citroen driver Carlos Sainz and into the record books once again. Unbelievably Loeb only made his WRC debut in 2002 and has taken just four seasons to overtake the success of rally legend Sainz. Along the way, it’s been a tour de force, as he now holds the record for the most consecutive victories, and last year performed what many people consider to be his most astounding feat – winning every stage in a World Championship Rally. This year the Frenchman has demonstrated his versatility winning the Race of Champions (December) and finishing in second place in the Le Mans 24 Hour Race.

Victory in Japan was the seventh this year for the Frenchman from only eleven starts. He now leads the driver’s standings by an incredible 33 points with five rallies to go.

Sébastien Loeb commented: “How was that for close? At the start of the final leg, I thought that the eight points for the championship would have been a good result for the championship. Then we took the decision just to go for it. On the last stage, we took a few risks. The smell of victory, and the potential joy of a team that once again performed faultlessly, made it all worth it.”

Ironically, had Gronholm managed to take the event on Sunday, he would have moved to within three races of Loeb – The Finnish driver sits sixth on the all-time win listing with 22 wins, behind Loeb (27), Sainz (26), Colin McRae (25), Tommi Mäkinen (24), Juha Kankkunen (23) and ahead of Didier Auriol (20), Markku Alén (19) and Hannu Mikkola (18 wins).

FIA World Rally Championship after round 11

1. S.Loeb (FRA), 102 pts – 2. M.Grönholm (FIN), 69 pts – 3. D.Sordo (E), 43 pts – 4. M.Hirvonen (FIN), 33 pts – 5. M.Stohl (A), 28 pts – 6. P.Solberg (N), 21 pts – 7. T.Gardemeister (FIN), 16 pts – 8. H.Solberg (N), 16 pts – 9. G.Galli (I), 15 pts – 10. X.Pons (E), 11 pts

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About the Author
Mike Hanlon Mike grew up thinking he would become a mathematician, accidentally started motorcycle racing, got a job writing road tests for a motorcycle magazine while at university, and became a writer. As a travelling photojournalist during his early career, his work was published in a dozen languages across 20+ countries. He went on to edit or manage over 50 print publications, with target audiences ranging from pensioners to plumbers, many different sports, many car and motorcycle magazines, with many more in the fields of communication - narrow subject magazines on topics such as advertising, marketing, visual communications, design, presentation and direct marketing. Then came the internet and Mike managed internet projects for Australia's largest multimedia company, Telstra.com.au (Australia's largest Telco), Seek.com.au (Australia's largest employment site), top100.com.au, hitwise.com, and a dozen other internet start-ups before founding Gizmag in 2002. Now he writes and thinks. All articles by Mike Hanlon
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