Plus one unexpected record for Loeb

Plus one unexpected record for LoebFrom Chris Biewer [ 08/10/2010 ].
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Yes, there is one record nobody talked about yet. Maybe a tiny one, but then, if nobody else mentions it....

In the recent Rallye de France you have heard it all. All those Loeb records. 7th World Championship title, 60th WRC rally win, and all on his home rally! It was a very successful weekend for the French. Maybe the French did not like to play soccer in Africa, but they succeeded in what matters far more for their industry and economy. It was a new, more centrally located French WRC round, and not only Loeb succeeded, but Citroen won their 6th manufacturers World Championship title in the past 8 years- or indeed it was the 9th makes title PSA took to France in the past 11 years! So anybody still cares how good their soccer shoes are? You spend your money walking, or on a car that is fun?

The new WRC Rallye de France Alsace found hundreds of thousands of fans, all celebrating, creating an atmosphere that found even always cool Sébastien Loeb having his eyes water. We could try and find all sorts of closest championship battles, or title wins with the most convincing margins, but did ever anyone win the WRC title at home? Well, Loeb in 2006, but that was sitting at home in front of the TV. This time he won at home driving.

I think, when the French WRC round moved to Alsace, it is fair to say that the French organisers layed out their route in credit and respect to their superstar. Was it coincidence that the final stage was in Haguenau? And that the following road section went through the small village Oberhofen? German names, but it is close to the border, and indeed Sébastien Loeb is born in Haguenau, and grew up in Oberhofen just outside Haguenau!

What however wasn’t planned, was for Loeb and Citroen braking all the records here! When the rally was included in the calendar and the route identified, all about a year ago, who could know that both World titles would be decided on the last stage of this rally, with two rounds yet to go?

OK, what is new? You have heard the 7th WRC title and 60th rally win. How about the club of the 1000 career points?

With his victory in Haguenau, Sébastien Loeb got 25 points, filling up his career total to 1009 points!

OK, you already see, 25 points for a win, when last year it was a tenner for a win. But let’s not forget, we had a similar points system, points for top10, 20points for victory, in most of the WRC history! The WRC started in 1973, the drivers title was added in 1979, and until including 1996 we always had the same 20-15-12-10-8-6-4-3-2-1 system – that is 23 years, well at least 18 years if we only count the drivers. From 1997 to 2009, 13 years, we had variations of systems 10-6-4-3-2-1 and 10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1. Now we returned to proper points.

So OK, the claim has its flaws. But Loeb has always scored points in the years when there was a maximum of 10 points, and back to a more traditional/rewarding system, it did not even take him one year to break the 1000 barrier! All the other drivers in the 1000-club have collected most of their points in the big points days 1973-1996! “All” the others? That club is very exclusive. Veeerrry exclusive:

We have Juha Kankkunen at 1124 points, after collecting another 4 on this year’s Rally Finland. You could argue if the 62 points for 1995 should be added, when Toyota and all their drivers got disqualified from the WRC. Position zero at 62 points? Bit wierd that. Well, with those points it would be 1186, without a definite 1124 career points.

Leader of these charts however is Carlos Sainz. He has 1220 career points collected between 1987 & 2005.

Err, that’s it! Sébastien Loeb became the only 3rd driver to break the 1000 career points barrier – and the only one to break this barrier in his home town. OK, from 1009 to 1220 points, he has to keep winning next year, but even if 2011 is indeed his last season, it is not impossible for Loeb to take the most career points record too.

Even more realistic that is for his navigator Daniel Elena. Loeb collected all his points with Elena. In the case of Kankkunen, he had quite a selection of different navigators throughout his career. Sainz however was with Luis Moya most of the time. Only in his very first year Sainz was with Antonio Boto, and only in 2003 Marc Marti replaced Luis Moya. This means the most sucessful navigator by career points is Luis Moya at 1066pts. Daniel Elena is only 57pts away from this record.

With Sébastien Loeb only becoming the 3rd driver to break the 1000 career points barrier, maybe the record is underlined if you see that, despite the many years at big points, only 15 drivers so far have managed to come over 500 career points!

Interestingly Carlos is also the man with most finishes in WRC rallies: 150! Quite a clear lead, according to my records (career points are double checked, the following figures I did not go through the trouble now). In event finishes Carlos is followed by a very close trio: Loeb at 120, Kankkunen at 119 & Petter Solberg at 118. Nobody else has finished more than 100 WRC events, however it must be said that Loeb and Solberg are helped by the superrally system where retirements are close to impossible. So was indeed Petter Solberg not even always in the most reliable car, when you see that so far Solberg had 160 WRC starts compared to Loeb’s 136.

Another amazing record. Sébastien Loeb won his 60th WRC event in his home town. Oh, you knew already? Did you know that makes him twice as good as anybody else, at least by numbers? 2nd most successful driver by wins in WRC history is Marcus Grönholm at exactly 30 victiories!