If you don’t follow rally driving, then you might be forgiven for not knowing who Sebastien Loeb is, but the speedy Frenchman just happens to be one of the most successful racers of all time, kind of like the Michael Schumacher of the rally circuit. World champion for a record seven years running, the CitroÃ«n driver is favourite to reclaim his title again this year, thanks to already enjoying a commanding lead this season. He’ll soon be in Australia as the rally circus heads Down Under for next month’s Coffs Harbour race, so we called him up…
Hi Sebastien. How excited are you about coming to Australia this year?
Hello. I am happy of course to be going to another country, but for me, you know, this is part of my job. It’s not like going on holidays!
Will you be expecting many French fans at the race?
No, there will not be many as I think most of the French community lives in Sydney.
Have you seen much of Australia, away from the race?
No, I’ve never had the chance to visit Australia, but it might be something that I will do later, when I am older with my family.
Are you happy with how your season has gone so far?
I am happy. We are leading the drivers’ championships at the mid-season break and so is CitroÃ«n for the manufacturers’ standings. I cannot complain!
You’ve won four out of the eight rallies so far this year. How confident are you of retaining the world title?
I am never confident that I will win. I think it’s possible, but it’s also possible for other drivers. We will do our best and I hope we can do it.
You have been very loyal to CitroÃ«n, having been with them almost your entire career. Why have you stayed there for so long?
It’s a long story. They helped me start my career and they’ve always given me the best materials, the best car, the best engineers. The way we work together is that we never take any win for granted and always look at improving.
You’ve tested for Formula 1 teams a couple of times but always stuck with rally driving. What’s the attraction?
It’s my job. I am lucky enough to live from my passion so nothing compares to F1, which was just a try. Rallying is varied and rich. I think F1 would be more repetitive.
As a teenager you were a champion gymnast. What made you switch to motor racing?
I thought that I wouldn’t make a lot of money being a gymnast! No, without kidding, I think I was too lazy at some point to continue training as much as I did. It’s a very demanding sport and I am not sure I would have reached the same level as in rallying.
What did it feel like the first time you won a rally?
If you are talking about a WRC event, it felt very satisfying and rewarding. You think, okay now I know I can do it!
Does it still feel as exciting?
Of course, you never get tired of winning because you realise after not winning one or two events that you miss it!
Is there anything in racing you still hope to achieve?
Another title hopefully.
You finished second in the 2006 Le Mans race. Will you try it again?
I don’t know… maybe, maybe not.
What would you be doing if you’re weren’t racing?
I would be an electrician.
Rally Australia hits Coffs Harbour Sep 8-11. For tickets, starting at $25, head to http://www.ticketek.com.au[www.ticketek.com.au]