Extended logic suggests Sebastien Loeb won the 2008 World Rally Championship in Finland 10 days ago. Try and convince me otherwise. See, you can't.
Look at this sensibly. The Frenchman is a single point behind Ford's Mikko Hirvonen going into this week's Rally Deutschland - and we all know how uber-quick Loeb is on sealed surfaces. The rest of this season contains not one, but three asphalt rallies. All of them Loeb benefits. In the last three years Loeb won every one of those three rallies. Get that. Unbeaten in Germany, Catalunya and Corsica since 2004. Actually, unbeaten in Germany since... never. The man from Alsace has won each and every one of Germany's six world rally championship qualifiers.
So, let's be sensible. Loeb can bank 30 points.
But what can Hirvonen get off the asphalt? Let's be generous and say a third and two seconds. That's actually pretty far-fetched. As much as Hirvonen likes these asphalt events (pretty unusual for a Finn), he's not really a match for Francois Duval, who's returning to Stobart Ford for the trio, and Loeb's number two Dani Sordo, who will be looking to challenge his master for a win on each of those three rallies. But let's give the current WRC leader the benefit. So, that takes Mikko's total to 89, while Loeb's three wins would leave him on 96.
Sebastien Loeb © LAT
The rallies that remain are New Zealand, Japan and Britain. Last year, only a superlative drive from Marcus Gronholm could beat Loeb in Hamilton; only a dodgy pace note call from Loeb's co-driver, Daniel Elena, could beat them in Japan and only the fact that he didn't need to win beat him in Britain.
Even if Hirvonen wins NZ, Japan and GB, Loeb is likely to be second - making their end of season totals: 120 for Loeb, 119 for Hirvonen. And I think we might be flattering the Ford man at that.
So, there we are. There's an attempt at a mathematical and common sense-based approach to the result of this year's title race. Now rip it up. Bin it. Nothing is ever that simple.
Loeb's run of German wins has to end somewhere. It will, next week. Duval will win. Sordo will win in Spain and Loeb will be back in front on his home round. After that, anything can happen.
The thing we saw from Loeb in Finland last week was the steely determination he doesn't often show. Winning for him is a way of life. He doesn't put too much thought into it usually. He did in Jyvaskyla. He wanted that win so badly, it hurt. So much for him not being bothered about winning the classic rallies. It will always irk him that he never beat the great Gronholm on his home ground, but putting one over the next big Finn, Hirvonen, was almost as satisfying for Loeb. And it was almost as satisfying for us to watch. Loeb's speed was supersonic throughout Friday morning.
Stage records in rallying can be a little misleading. The stage condition is never going to be exactly the same from year to year, but still they hold a major fascination for us - particularly in Finland, the fastest of fast rallies. In previous years, Loeb's apathy towards the book marked: '1000 Lakes, records' has been marked. Not this time. By stage four, the little fella had dived into the book and was splashing the tip-ex around like it was going out of fashion.
Palsankyla hadn't been used for a while and Richard Burns's 2000 record of 7m28.6s remained. When RB set his benchmark, he was driving one of Subaru's finest ever Imprezas, with all-active diffs, all the bells and whistles and perfect tyres. World Rally Car technology has clearly moved on; Loeb's C4, complete with only an active centre differential, and control tyres (which had already done two stages that morning) was 15.9 seconds faster than Burns. And let's not forget what a force Burnsie was on the 1000 Lakes in 2000.
Sebastien Loeb and Daniel Elena crest a hill in their Citroen © LAT
One stage later, and Loeb brings it right up to date, by rubbing out Gronholm's record for one of the event's towering stages: Vellipohja. Vellipohja is a real Finnish chest-beater; a real man's stage. A Finn being beaten here is just not on. But Loeb did it. Second time through on Friday, the Frenchie ducked 'Bosse's' best by two tenths of a second. We should have known then that something big was in the offing.
And Loeb's win was something big. Only Sweden and Finland boast such massive local domination, but with only two non-Nordic wins prior to this year, Finland was the big one for outsiders. It was the big one for Loeb and he busted it wide open. Leading from start to finish, Loeb drove insanely fast - and, unusually for him, way outside of his comfort zone.
Watching the C4 howling through the wide road near Kakaristo junction on the stage formerly known as Ouninpohja, you would think Loeb was a native. The car was fired over the crests, when it landed, it made its own line. No matter whether it was a corner or a ditch in the way, both were chopped by this man on a mission. And he absolutely loved it. Finally, Loeb and the Finnish yump were as one.
"People said before to brake before the jump," he said. "They think that this way you can carry more speed because you are on the ground longer. That's shit. I want to hit every crest at 180km/h and just fly."
Spoken like a true Finn. As La Marseillaise rang out on the podium, there was a mixture of bemusement, shock and sadness on the faces of the locals. They needn't have worried, winning a 1000 Lakes means as much to Loeb as it does to any one of their heroes.