Is a ninth Loeb title an inevitability?
23rd January 2012, 19:38 at 7:38 pm #130784
Well the new World Rally Championship season has begun rather predictability with a Sebastien Loeb victory.
Make that a trouncing, as he was a whopping two minutes and 45 seconds clear of Dani Sordo at the end of the Rallye Monte-Carlo.
Should we just crown him champion for the ninth year in a row now and get it over with? Or will Solberg, Ogier, Sordo, Hirvonen or someone else finally prise the trophy from Loeb’s grasp?
Watching the Monte I was particularly impressed by Solberg. As the last person to beat Loeb to a title I would like to see him get on terms this year.23rd January 2012, 19:51 at 7:51 pm #190738
With Hirvonen being in Citroen, I can’t see him having the ‘political power’ to beat team-mate Loeb. I am honestly not sure if Sordo or Latvala have the sort of talent to beat Loeb but Solberg in a works Ford could result in an interesting battle for the title.23rd January 2012, 20:30 at 8:30 pm #190739
I’m with @robk23 I don’t think Hirvonen is gonna be in with much of a chance, given this is his first season in a DS3, but the politics at Citroen won’t allow it anyway.
I reckon Latvala will take an impressive number of victories but going into Sweden 28 points down will really hurt him.
Honestly, I don’t really know yet. I’d like Hirvonen to prove me wrong but I also respect him for perhaps playing the long game.23rd January 2012, 20:58 at 8:58 pm #190740
Loeb is amazing. Outstanding. Incredible. He is the greatest of all time without any trace of doubt.
But because of his prolonged dominance, I have absolutely minimal interest in the WRC these days. Witnessing greatness like this is a privilege, but the point at which this streak began to damage the WRC as a spectacle passed long ago for me.23rd January 2012, 21:08 at 9:08 pm #190741
No, there’s only been one rally but it certainly seems like it might go that way. Mikko might challenge in the odd rally but by the time he settles in Loeb will probably be miles away points wise. The only real challenger could be Latvala but he’ll probably crash out too much or be wildly inconsistent (not to forget how bad Ford are at tarmac events). Petter needs time to settle in too and he’s amazing to watch but can attract trouble too so I’m not sure he could pull it off even if the circumstances were right. Given the state of the other teams I don’t think anyone else really has a shot (Sordo has impressed me in the Mini though). It’s still early so I have to say no because anything can happen but every bit of reason in me says yes.23rd January 2012, 22:22 at 10:22 pm #190742
I’m with @robk23, unless Solberg finds some speed, I fear it’s going to be an easy one for Loeb, agian.
Solberg is certainly the best of the rest, and now he got a car up to his speed for the first time since half a decade, I just hope he wins again. Sordo has always been mediocre, Hirvonen is alright but races at Citroen, so that’s a no-no, and Latvala is still very young. Solberg clearly stands out as fast and experienced enough to challenge Loeb, but he needs time in the Ford.
It’ll be hard to break Loeb-Citroen domination, really…
Though, I’m not sure if Loeb is the best ever, as @magnificent-geoffrey says. I like him, he’s spectacular, but honestly he’s been having it easy since Gronholm retired (except in 2009, probably Hirvonen’s best and last chance). He’s dominating a seriously un-competitive era in WRC, unlike other of the greats.24th January 2012, 2:22 at 2:22 am #190743
I´m amazed everyone seems to think Solberg has a shout. He peaked years ago, he´s rarely even threatened to win in the last few years. Even in his heyday I don´t think he was ever anything particularly special. Ford would seem to agree because they´ve admitted he´s officially number 2 to Latvala this season.
Saying as Ogier doesn´t have a WRC car this season and Hirvonen is never going to beat Loeb in the same car, the only other man I see having a shot at the title is Latvala. I think he´s far better than his career results so far would suggest, and with a combination of more luck and fewer crashes he could regularly have the beating of Loeb24th January 2012, 2:40 at 2:40 am #190744
am i right to say the competition for the past few years has been pretty poor? thus letting loeb rin away with the titles easier?24th January 2012, 2:49 at 2:49 am #190745
Fer no.65Participant24th January 2012, 9:25 at 9:25 am #190746
Remember Loeb can make mistakes. It is not all over.
I reckon that we’ll see a close fight for the title this year.
What may swing it for Loeb is that he can always guarantee that Hirvonen will have to make may for him. Will the same happen at Ford with Latvala and Solberg?24th January 2012, 10:01 at 10:01 am #190747
It seems to me the WRC in 2012 is where F1 was in 2002: Best driver in best car, team mate not allowed to beat him, opposition nowhere.24th January 2012, 13:27 at 1:27 pm #190748
I was pretty disappointed when Hirvonen moved to Citroën – even back then I thought it would lead to an easy title for Loeb. It looks like that is going to be the case, and it’s really sad to write off a whole season of WRC (unless you are a Loeb fan) at this stage.24th January 2012, 13:53 at 1:53 pm #190749
I think that 2011 was a close year. As far as competitve driving goes, it was technically all open until the very last rally in Wales. Everyone had their fair share of technical problems, including Loeb, which made things really dramatic.
Although Loeb ultimately won last year, it was by no means easy riding for him, so as a result i’m trying to look at this year with a fresh pair of eyes, knowing that there is the talent out there. That said, Hirvonen moving to Citroen will certainly give Loeb a head start until he can comfortably get on top of the DS3.
I guess that what i’m trying to say is that this year may well be another one that goes to Loeb, but with Ogier taking one step back (and hopefully two steps forward) and Hirvonen putting himself in the position he has should mean that we’re in for a real battle in the future. Maybe not 2012, but at least they’re thinking ahead.25th January 2012, 14:56 at 2:56 pm #190750
@andrewtanner I never really believed in Loeb’s title rivals’ chances last year, but I suppose that reflects more on my own cynicism!25th January 2012, 17:59 at 5:59 pm #190751
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