With the Coffs Coast leg of the World Rally Championships only a matter of weeks away, 7- times world champion Sebastien Loeb shares the challenges of competitive rally driving and his career highlights so far.
You’re the seven time World Champion, which means there would be a lot of pressure on you to perform well again this year. What are your strategies to take out this year’s title?
I don’t think I am under more pressure than anyone else – probably less actually, because I don’t think I have anything to prove. However, my strategy is to win any rally I can and when I cannot win, I aim to score a maximum of points. This is how you can win a title.
You have to remain both mentally and physically fit to compete at such an elite level. What sort of preparation and training is involved?
Just basic training to keep fit, so there’s not so much. I run, I mountain bike, I go the gym and I also climb sometimes with friends. I tend to do a lot of motorsports like go karts, bikes, etc.
What are some of the biggest challenges you face as a rally driver?
The constant changes of road conditions, grip and sometimes weather. This is what is tricky in rallying. Also, I think to be able to go flat out at 80 km/h on some stages that you’re unfamiliar with and have only run twice can be a real challenge!
What was the first car you ever raced in?
It was a Peugeot 206.
You’re one of the most loyal drivers in the Championship, having stayed with Citroen for more than a decade. What makes Citroen so special to you?
It’s a long story, really. They helped me when I was first starting my career, and they always gave me the best material, the best car, and the best engineers. We never take any win for granted and always look at ways of improving for the next race, so we work really well together.
Tell us about your co-driver and the team you’ll be bringing out for Rally Australia.
It will be the same team that I take everywhere on the WRC tour. My co-driver is Daniel Elena, who is an old friend of mine and a great driver. We’ve driven together for a long time now.
You’ve got a long list of career highlights. What have been some of the standouts for you personally?
That would have to be the first title win and the last one. The first win always has a special taste because, well, it’s the first! The last one was special because it was at home in my hometown in front of all my friends and family. It was very emotional.
I also had the chance to drive a F1 car one day – that was great – and try a lot of different toys like planes (alpha jets and mirage) etc.
You travel the world with the WRC. What have been some of the best places you visited and why?
I really like the variety of places and landscapes that we get to see. I also enjoy going to a place when the weather is nice and warm!
How much time will you be spending in Australia?
Only one week – just the duration of the event, in fact.
Thanks Sebastien. Good luck on the Coffs Coast. To find out more about the Coffs Coast leg of the World Rally Championships, visit the Rally Australia website at www.rallyaustralia.com