Nine-Time World Rally Champ Sebastien Loeb Races MotorcyclesFri, 20 Dec 2013 00:00:00 -0800
Known as arguably the greatest rally car driver of all time, Sebastien Loeb has accomplished a lot behind the wheel of a car. Most victories in WRC history, most podium finishes, most points, nine World Rally titles, a dominating victory at Pikes Peak, and even a second place finish at the 24-hours of LeMans. So what does Loeb do to relax? Races motorcycles, of course.
Recently, Loeb took part in Scorpion Masters 2013. The event has all competitors compete in Trials, participate in an Enduro special test, battle it out in a Supermoto race and complete two speed tests on the legendary Paul Ricard racetrack – all on the same day! KTM were generous enough to supply the bikes.
In the trials competition, under the guidance of Bruno Camozzi, Sébastien did impressively well by finishing 13th out of 27 participants. Next, Loeb climbed aboard a KTM 450 EXC for the enduro portion, riding and hopping his way over tree stumps and other debris to finish 15th. Not bad considering the arm pump he experienced halfway through.
From the dirt to the pavement, Loeb changed into his leathers for the supermoto race. Riding a 450 SMR, he rode with some of the big names in supermoto, like Eddy Seel, Adrien Chareyre, and Boris Chambon. He may not have given them much to worry about, but he kept the bike upright and crossed the line in 22nd place.
A spat of rain came over the Paul Ricard circuit for the final speed test of the day, and instead of the RC8R he had originally planned on riding, he switched to the new Super Duke R in qualifying and race one for its more comfortable riding position and electronics suite. While many riders crashed out early, Loeb stayed upright and crossed the finish line in 10th place out of 22.
Feeling more comfortable, Loeb switched to the RC8R for the second race, where cold weather and more rain faced the riders. Despite this, Loeb finished the second race in 9th place, for a 13th overall finish in the event. Impressive for a guy who makes his living with a steering wheel instead of a handlebar.
Afterwards, he had this to say:
My goal was not to prove anything, but really to enjoy myself in a relaxed atmosphere, much like when I race in a car at the Race of Champions. From that standpoint, everything was perfect and I truly enjoyed myself. It is true that the conditions this afternoon were less than ideal. I was a bit nervous about the start of the race: this was my first motorcycle race and my first start from a grid, and doing that in the rain just made things that much more complicated! But everything went well and I had a great time, especially duelling a bit with David Knight. It really was fun! I ran the qualifiers and the first race with the KTM 1290 Super Duke R, because its riding position makes it easier to handle, and the electronics boosted my confidence. I still took a beating in the straights, though! Because I’d had such good luck with the RC8 R in practice, I also used it for the second race. I rode a bit faster this time and was able to finish in front of David, but the frame is not as flexible as that of the 1290 Super Duke R, and I had trouble getting the most out of it, even if I raced somewhat faster with it overall. It was a great day in an excellent atmosphere. We had some time to talk with each other, to discover the various disciplines and riders from other disciplines… it was a really good time!”
By Troy Siahaan
See also: Helen Kurt Caselli Send-Off Attracts Thousands, KTM Signs Jordi Viladoms to Race Dakar Rally, Victory Launches in Malaysia.