Ogier takes world title in France as Loeb crashes out in career finalé
STRASBOURG, France: Newly crowned world champion Sebastien Ogier won Rally France as nine-time World Rally champion Sebastien Loeb crashed out in his career finalé.
Loeb, who had already announced earlier in the season that this would be his last world rally campaign, failed to finish after going off the road on the race’s final day.
Volkswagen driver Ogier, who had claimed the world title in the early stages of the French rally, finished ahead of Citroen’s Dani Sordo and teammate Jari-Matti Latvala. Ogier said that the attention given to his duel with fellow Frenchman Loeb was unfair to the other drivers.
He finished 12.2 seconds ahead of Sordo and almost 20 seconds in front of Latvala. He praised the world rally legacy of Loeb, who leaves the sport with nine titles under his belt.
“Sebastien Loeb will remain a great champion even if he made a mistake today. The conditions were such that it was easy to make an error,” Ogier said at the end of the rally.
Loeb’s Citroen had ended upside down by the side of the track after rolling into a rain-soaked ditch.
“I started flat out because it was a close situation. We were fourth, fighting for the victory, but it didn’t go as I planned,” Loeb said. “I lost the rear in a fast right corner, and then we had a spin and I finished in the ditch. And that was race over. For sure I would have preferred to have finished my last rally here, but it didn’t go according to plan.”
Loeb will now switch to the World Touring Car Championship next season, also behind the wheel of a Citroen.
“I’m not happy about the situation but I was not driving for the championship so I don’t need the points. I do feel sorry for the spectators and for the team though,” Loeb added.