‘I lengthy for a no‑holds-barred multi-discipline showdown between the easiest racing drivers’
Think about how superior it should really feel to get up every day understanding you’re Sébastien Loeb. Particularly if you’ve simply received your eighth Monte Carlo Rally and executed an ideal celebratory backflip on the rostrum. And all only a fortnight after ending 2nd total on the Dakar.
With a lot consideration targeted on youth in motorsport, it’s all of the extra particular that not solely ought to Loeb (47) nonetheless be on the peak of his powers some 23 years after he made his WRC debut, however that he was co-driven by 50-year-old Isabelle Galmiche. Very similar to Ricky Bobby, there’s no query the nine-time WRC champ nonetheless pisses excellence, though at his age it’s more likely to be a number of instances in the course of the night time in addition to very first thing within the morning.
However then rallying stays a sport during which the information, expertise and judgement gained by way of years of precise stage mileage can’t be short-cut with seat-time in a simulator. What makes his newest win all of the extra outstanding is that he was competing toe-to-toe with Sébastien Ogier – the one different energetic WRC driver able to respiration the identical rarefied air. Stage after stage, they used each scrap of ability and guile to out-think, out-psyche and out-drive the opposite. It was a traditional sporting duel within the method of Nadal and Federer, Prost and Senna or Ali and Frazier. No marvel Loeb described Monte ’22 as his most memorable victory.
Apart from his astounding success, advancing age and easy Gallic cool, what makes Loeb’s unfolding story so compelling is his willingness to discover different motorsport genres. To his credit score, Ogier additionally finds extra-curricular motorsport irresistible. Certainly he has restricted his ’22 marketing campaign with the intention to achieve circuit racing expertise in preparation for a shot at profitable Le Mans with Toyota (for whom he drives in WRC) in 2024.
All of it provides to the aura surrounding the pair, who between them have received 17 of the final 18 WRC titles – Loeb taking 9 straight titles between 2004 and 2012, Ogier taking all however one since.
> ‘She gestured in the direction of a double swap on the wall. “That swap,” she stated. “I wish to do away with it.”’
Whereas Ogier has but to show his versatility exterior WRC, there’s lengthy been a powerful case to recommend Loeb is probably the most gifted driver of the fashionable period. Maybe ever. His prolific mixture of wins and podiums within the Dakar, FIA World Rallycross, Excessive E, World Touring Vehicles, Porsche Supercup, FIA GT3, Andros Trophy and the Le Mans 24 Hours is with out evaluate. And that’s with out factoring-in his vastly spectacular drive in a 2008 Pink Bull RB4 throughout an official F1 check again in 2008.
All of which makes me lengthy for a real no-holds-barred multi-discipline showdown between the perfect of the perfect. Sure, there’s the Race of Champions, however entertaining although it’s, with its short-format head-to-heads in bizarre vehicles on serpentine, low-speed stadium circuits, Michèle Mouton’s made-for-TV occasion is akin to discovering the world’s greatest golfers by taking the PGA Tour to a loopy golf course.
Ignoring for a second the problems of economic rights clashes, packed diaries and fragile egos, the prospect of GOATs reminiscent of Loeb and Ogier (plus a WRC younger gun like Elfyn Evans) testing themselves towards Hamilton, Verstappen and Lando Norris could be sensational. Throw in main lights from IndyCar, WEC, WTCC, BTCC, Aussie Supercars and some previous masters from all the above and also you’d have field workplace gold. Amazon or Netflix please take observe…
Actual-time telemetry and driver’s eye cameras would place us on the coronary heart of the motion. A rigorously curated mix of time-attack runs in high-downforce circuit vehicles and wild WRC vehicles on a high-jeopardy rally stage, plus crowd-pleasing head-to-head eliminators in super-sideways drift vehicles would offer a whole check of driving ability. Then we’d throw them right into a grid of an identical low-grip historics – let’s say Lotus Cortinas – and allow them to slug it out in a particular 20-minute race on the Goodwood Revival.
Such a factor shouldn’t be with out precedent. Within the early ’80s our expensive British Broadcasting Company frequently held the BBC Rally Dash, during which F1 and WRC stars competed towards the clock (and each other) in an identical vehicles on a rally stage and autotest earlier than going wheel-to-wheel in an often-chaotic ten-lap race.
Search the dustier corners of YouTube and also you’ll discover it in all its low-fi glory. It’s not precisely the X-Video games, however 1983’s event-deciding ten-lapper round Donington is a belter, with F1’s Nigel Mansell and John Watson assembly their match in rallying’s Stig ‘The Stig’ Blomqvist and Tony Pond. I received’t spoil it for you, however seeing them knocking seven bells out of each other (and their hapless MG Maestros) is likely one of the best scraps you’ll ever see.
Somebody must revamp this and make it occur. If they do, I do know who my cash’s on…