Loeb Enjoys Rare Supremacy

Sebastien Loeb's cool efficiency has taken him to position of dominance in world rallying not enjoyed by a driver since Finn Tommi Makinen won four titles in a row in the 1990s

Loeb Enjoys Rare Supremacy

The French Citroen driver clinched his second successive Championship by finishing second in the Rally of Japan on Sunday and set the seal on two years of unparalleled success.

The 31-year-old has now won 14 of the last 29 rallies and in the process set records for the most wins in a season (eight) and the most consecutive victories (six).

Loeb started out as an asphalt specialist but quickly became equally adept on gravel and snow, finishing on the podium with remarkable consistency.

In 2003, his first full season in the World Championship, he finished just a point away from the title and since then his domination, commitment and nerveless driving style have drawn comparisons with Formula One great Michael Schumacher.

Ironically, the withdrawal of Citroen from the ailing Championship could rob Loeb of the chance of winning a hat-trick of titles next year, or even taking part at all.

Loeb, who will not be alone among the top performers seeking a new drive, could be snapped up by Ford although he may decide to take a non-works Citroen in the hope that the French manufacturer returns in 2007.

Successful Gymnast

Born in Oberhoffen, Alsace, Loeb first followed his father into gymnastics and enjoyed considerable success before switching his focus to driving as a teenager.

He made his World Championship debut in 1999 at the wheel of a Citroen Saxo kit car and won the A6 class in the Tour of Corsica and the San Remo rally.

In 2000, Loeb clinched the title in the two-wheel drive class of the French Gravel Rally Championship.

He also drove in two more World Championship events, finishing ninth in Corsica and 10th in San Remo, both times in a Toyota Corolla.

Citroen took him on as an official driver in 2001 to drive a Xsara kit car in the French Championship and a Saxo Super 1600 in the World Championship.

A victory in Monte Carlo opened the 2002 season but the result was later overturned when Loeb was penalised for an illegal wheel change.

Loeb's first win came instead in Germany the same year.

Three more wins and three second places followed in 2003 when Loeb fought a close battle for the world title with Petter Solberg.

After running so close to the title, he dominated the next season with a record six wins -- in Monte Carlo, Sweden, Cyprus, Turkey, Germany and Australia

He was also runner-up six times, securing his first title on home soil in Corsica and becoming only the second Frenchman to be Champion after Didier Auriol in 1994.

This year he opened with a third successive Monte Carlo victory then won New Zealand, Italy, Cyprus, Turkey, Greece and Argentina to set a record for successive wins.

The Argentina win was his seventh of the season broke his own mark for successive wins and he further extended that mark with victory in Germany.

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