FIA World Rallye Championship – Rallye de France – Alsace
The Alsace Rallye de France as a whole and specifically at our Oakley O-Lab seemed to be centered around not only a great rally car race but also around one of Oakley’s most beloved athletes: Sebastién Loeb.
Sebastién is one of Oakley’s Beyond Reason athletes and Alsace is his home country. Despite his incredible success and word-wide fame, the 38-year-old is a mellow, likeable and down-to-earth fellow. He brought his wife Séverine – who sometimes replaces Sebastién’s usual co-driver Daniel Elena for non-championship races – and daughter Valentine with him for the signing and photo sessions.
Having local hero Sebastién with us it came to no surprise that the turnout of fans at our Rolling O-Lab was simply overwhelming! And what a treat for our VIP invitees! Some of our best accounts and several outstanding Oakley reps did not only get to meet Sebastién, but also had the privilege to fly one day with a helicopter to see all the race stages from the air!
Starting into the event’s 22 stages over 404,14km Sebastién had already won the entire World Rally Championship circuit no less than eight times in a row. It was now a question of building up a cushion for another overall title, to deal with the pressure of racing in front of his fans, and fighting off his competitors who were eager to dethrone the reigning champion.
Despite Sebastién’s known domination on asphalt, the race stayed challenging with uneven terrain, cold temperatures and aquaplaning. While the last stage – ending in Haguenau, in Sebastién’s birthplace – went to Thierry Neuville, Sebastién nevertheless secured with an overall 15,5 seconds lead the victory of the Rallye de France in Alsace. And with it also his 9th victory of entire WRC Championship!
Fittingly – but sadly – Sebastién announced his retirement from full-time rallying and from racing with his loyal co-pilot Daniel Elena. But the Daniel left the door open a little bit: “It’s the end of a beautiful adventure, the end of a story, of a career – even if you never know with Séb…”
And indeed, the success story might continue: Sebastién’s plan is to only participate in selected events during the upcoming season, and to build up to a FIA World Touring Car Championship bid for 2014.
To be continued…