Red Bull’s seven-time world champion Sebastien Loeb crashes about once every death of a Pope. When he exited the lead of Rally Australia on Friday, he admitted that he hadn’t been concentrating. To make matters worse, his team-mate Sebastien Ogier then did exactly the same thing a few stages later.
Both Frenchmen will re-start on Saturday with their Citroens patched up, but for Monsieur Loeb’s benefit, here are five painful reminders that even he can very occasionally drop the ball big time…
Catalunya Rally 2002
The asphalt king was still early on in his career (in fact he was yet to win a rally) when he overcooked it on one of Spain’s flat-out asphalt stages. Prior to that he had been heading for a podium, but after rolling his Xsara into a ball and reducing the windscreen to crazy paving, it was clear that the only place he was going was back to his hotel room. On foot.
Déjà vu? Seb Loeb was leading Rally Australia in 2005 comfortably when he understeered into a tree. The accident wasn’t quite as daft as it sounded: he was first on the road so had very little way of telling just how slippery the stage was. Unfortunately for him, the all-seeing ‘eye in the sky’ helicopter captured every moment of his transgression – and subsequent embarrassment – in glorious technicolour.
By his own account, this was Seb’s best shunt yet. While correcting a pace note, he left the road in sixth gear on SS7, launching his C4 WRC into a series of centrifugal rolls that made the occupants feel that they were trapped in a giant washing machine. The car was trashed in a way that Loeb had never trashed a rally car before. He sincerely hopes that he never will again. As he pointed out, the Greek accident bore some similarities to his most recent Australia crash. Oops.
The curse of Australia struck again this year. This time, Loeb was looking at a split time that popped up on the dashboard rather than concentrating on his pace note. “I’ve absolutely no idea why I did that,” he admitted afterwards but at least this time the damage to the car wasn’t too bad. Remember kids – you need to pay close attention at all times when you’re driving.
Mountain bike 2006
This one actually out-did the Greece shunt, but with at least 300 less horsepower at his disposal. While out mountain-biking near his home at the end of 2006, Loeb took a tumble and managed to break the ball socket joint in his right shoulder in several places. The Frenchman had to miss the rest of the season – four rallies – but still managed to clinch the championship. “I knew it was bad straight away,” said Loeb. “It definitely hurt – but not as much as it hurt when I realised that I had to ring up my boss and tell him what I had just done…”