citroen-xsara-wrc-2004 Sébastien Loeb's 2004 Citroën Xsara WRC (© Trevor Page)

The 2004 WRC Rallye Deutschland was memorable both for rally winner Sébastien Loeb and the then-defending world champion Petter Solberg.

The German event was introduced to the WRC calendar for 2002, when Sébastien Loeb took his maiden WRC victory in the new Citroën Xsara WRC, during a season where Citroën competed in just seven events as they built up to a full championship entry for 2003. That next year, Loeb and his fully-fledged team took victory again, but it was Subaru’s Petter Solberg who won the championship by a single point after winning at Rally GB in Wales.

The tide turned in 2004. Tarmac specialist Loeb once again dominated in all-asphalt Germany, but the Rallye Deutschland that year is remembered for Petter Solberg’s incredible crash in the Subaru Impreza. The Norwegian understeered and hit a lump of concrete at the roadside, flipping the car over and over to a halt. Miraculously, Solberg and co-driver Phil Mills walked away virtually unscathed, but the car was destroyed, as you can see in the below video.

What happened next?
Sébastien Loeb went on to win his first WRC title at the end of 2004, with Petter Solberg 36 points adrift, and the Frenchman again finished ahead of Solberg in 2005. Loeb has won every single title since as well, all for Citroën, and every Rallye Deutschland there has been for good measure (every year except 2009, when Germany wasn’t on the calendar). Solberg’s results, due mainly to Subaru’s failing fortunes and some bad luck (a 2005 collision with a kangaroo in Australia cost him dear), began to wane with each passing season, his last victory coming in ’05. After Subaru’s official pullout at the end of 2008, Solberg switched to running as a privateer, ironically in one of his nemesis’s old 2006 Citroën Xsara WRCs, which was still good enough by 2009 for two podiums. After running that car’s C4 WRC successor at the tail end of ’09, and then last year to eight more podiums, Solberg is back up where he belongs and now competing in the brand-new DS3 WRC also driven by Loeb, albeit still as the Petter Solberg World Rally Team.

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