Wings This Week is a weekly focus on Red Bull athletes that live on the edge and push the boundaries of what is possible. The focus this week is Sebastien Loeb, an eight times World Rally Champion who recently made a very special entry into the X-games and won Gold.
Hailing from Alsace France, Sebastien Loeb was a formidable gymnast in his youth – a sport he took a shining to in the footsteps of his father. Thereon, fostered with an early competitive spirit, Sebastien did not miss an opportunity to win: he thought up spluttering tricycle, bicycle and moped challenges with other teenagers in the neighbourhood, much to his neighbours dismay! By the time he reached his early 20’s Sebastien shifted gears to become one of the most successful World Rally Championship drivers of all time, and the track record speaks for itself.
Sebastien won the WRC drivers title for six consecutive years between 2004-2009, driving for Citroën. As something of an all-rounder he has also raced for Pescarolo Sport in the 24 Heures Du Mans, finishing second in 2006, and is a three-times winner of the Race of Champions. In 2009, he was made chevalier of the Légion d’Honneur, which cemented his title as a national hero, and certainly one of the most prized athletes in the Red Bull family.
However, his recent conquest at the 2012 X-games RallyCross is one for the books! Sebastien was invited to take part by extreme sports virtuoso Travis Pastrana - a gesture that probably dates back to his competitive spin-offs with the neighbourhood kids in Alsace. The excitement was cut short when Travis was shunted into a concrete wall at the first corner of the qualifying round, thereby propelling Sebastien to a strong advantage in the finals.
Seb didn’t take the victory for granted as he put on an utterly dominating show in the start of the final round, leaving another friendly next-best rival Marcus Grönholmin the dust. Marcus suffered a similar crash to Travis’ but unfortunately concussed. At the second restart, Loeb zipped back into the lead in a heavily modded, custom-made Citroen DS3 XL and quickly established a lead of a few seconds over Ken Block in a Ford Fiesta. A puncture spelled the end to Block's challenge and Loeb crossed the line a full 12 seconds clear, far from all fault and fracture, clenching the gold.
Still, when asked about his latest victory Sebastian empathetically comments, “It was a great end to the weekend and obviously, I’m really pleased to win the gold medal, but I must admit I'm finding it hard to really enjoy it when my ‘best enemy’ Marcus Grönholm is in hospital after his crash. We were both very much looking forward to racing against each other here and it's a shame that it didn't happen.”
With both, a track record and spirit cast in gold, Sebastian is easily poised to be one of the greatest World Rally Champions of all time.