The FIA WRC Academy crews met with nine-time Rallye Deutschland winner Sébastien Loeb as the Citroën Total World Rally Team driver imparted his knowledge and experience ahead of the first sealed-surface event in Germany last month.
Sharing the knowledge that underlines his success on the event, the eight-time World Champion advised the youngsters on his pacenote system, his approach to fitness and his strong relationship with co-driver Daniel Elena which sees the pairing firmly placed as one of the fastest wheel changers in the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC).
In fact, the French pairing’s unrivalled relationship in the car even inspired Alastair Fisher and Daniel Barritt to set an impressive wheel change time when they incurred a puncture over the second pass of Moselland (SS5) – a time of 01min 50sec which saw them awarded the ‘Spirit of the FIA WRC Academy’ award.
Loeb also revealed the identity of his toughest team-mates and opponents as well as his strong relationship with his French team and how he maintains his motivation year on year. With top advice from the Tarmac expert, the WRC Academy crews were well placed to replicate the Frenchman’s successes on the event he has dominated for the past decade. Heeding the World Champion’s advice, all but one of the crews that started SS1 made it to the end of the event which is renowned as one of the most challenging asphalt rounds of the year.
Supported by Ford Racing in Europe and with control tyres from Pirelli, the WRC Academy crews will continue their asphalt campaign at the 2012 Rallye de France Alsace in early October.
John MacCrone said: “It was pretty amazing to have the chance to put our questions to Sébastien [Loeb]. He is such a cool guy – very relaxed and chilled out. As he said, he doesn’t really have any [specific] secrets, he just does everything properly and all the little things right. He made us realise that everything you do can have an effect on the outcome of an event. He was talking to us about managing tyres on the Baumholder stage [Arena Panzerplatte] which was very interesting. He tries to look after his tyres on every single corner of every single rally and I think that is probably one of his secrets. He is very neat and very smooth in the car and very kind on the tyres – that will certainly be something I’ll take on board and try and do myself.”
Eight-time World Champion, Sébastien Loeb said: “All the [WRC] Academy crews were really interested in what I had to say and it was amazing to see how strong their passion for the sport is. They really want to learn and have a real ambition to be the fastest they can be. For me, it is really important to share my experiences and help the next generation of drivers in their development. When I was a young driver, I really wanted to ask so many things to the older drivers. When you start driving you need to talk about your feeling, your fears and also your performance; it was interesting to see that they wanted to know all the same things I did when I first started rallying.”