Usually when you have a driver that has dominated a sport as much as Sebastien Loeb has, you tend to think it is bad for business. Honestly, who wants to watch a guy win every single title and nearly every single event? Personally I don’t overly like it but at the same point, I don’t want that person to just pull over. I believe the other teams just need to up their game. That is something that Ford has had a hard time doing this season or any season since the Loeb era began. That is why yesterday when Loeb’s new contract extension was announced, a few people’s hearts sank.
The extension will see the Citroen ace compete next season for sure with an option to compete in 2013. Loeb said he will probably not be competing in 2014. Why should he? As Doug and I mentioned this week on the podcast, he has nothing left to prove. However, these next two years will not be a cake walk for Mr. Loeb. Having him around will be a benefit and a real joy to watch. Below are just a couple reasons why we should not write off the next two years of the championship.
Young Sebastien Ogier has proven this year that he will not sit back and be Loeb’s lap dog. Going toe to toe against his veteran teammate and using his own skills against him. There has truly been a different feel at Citroen this season and it promises to only intensify as Ogier matures. As always in motorsport, first priority is beating your teammate. No teammate of Loeb’s has put up this level of challenge. It will also be interesting to see how the two continue to coexist at the French marque. Rumor from the service park this year is the relationship is already tense. Rightfully so, Loeb is on his toes and he is not used to that in the championship let alone his own team.
The next couple of seasons will see MINI join the fight full time and a year later Volkswagen. This will be very interesting for Loeb if he picks up his option for 2013. One has to assume that will happen as Citroen will insist Loeb stay and help the team. Volkswagen has made no secret that they want to beat Citroen. Whether this happens in 2013 or not is doubtful. VW even went as far as to try and lure Loeb to its team. That attempt was obviously not successful, but that will not stop them from trying to dethrone Citroen as the world’s best.
At the end of the day, many people will say that Loeb hanging around is terrible for the WRC. I think it is a bit different though because things will not be made easy for the man who has dominated the sport soundly. The seasons coming will provide many storylines. The main being can Sebastien hold on to his place atop the rally world as the competition grows to new heights. If anything, I think it will be fun to watch and will speak to Sebastien’s legacy when he finally hangs up the driving boots.