Many F1 aficionados will tell you that Michael Schumacher is the greatest race car driver of all time. NASCAR fans will counter with Dale Earnhardt, and those who crave endurance races like the 24 Hours of Le Mans will convince you that there has never been someone like Tom Kristensen.
While I'm not a die-hard rallying fan, I must admit that Loeb's accomplishments are quite mind-boggling.
The man the French call ''E.T.'' has won on all types of terrain, in all weather conditions. He has turned many Citroëns into world champions, out-performed every teammate he's ever had, and very seldom cracked under the pressure.
|Sébastien Loeb, Citroën DS3. (Photo: Citroën Racing)|
Heck, Loeb won a world title while he was not even racing for Citroën's official team!
Loeb also made a huge mark on road courses. He dominated in GT class and the Porsche Cup, finished second at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2006, and even drove a Red Bull F1 car without looking like a fool.
He's the quintessential driver -- fast, sure-handed and confident behind any steering wheel.
Loeb achieved all that while staying down to earth and never becoming full of himself. He's remained straightforward, accessible, friendly and respectful of fans, which is rare in today's auto racing world.
In addition to being super-fast, Loeb is extremely smart and shrewd. Rather than blindly charging ahead, he expertly flirts with the car's limits -- and his own -- without ever exceeding them.
How fitting that Loeb is partially retiring from the WRC as the undisputed leader. He's going out on top after winning the last round of the 2012 season and earning a record ninth consecutive world title.
Let this WRC win table speak for itself:
1. Sébastien Loeb, 76
2. Marcus Grönholm, 30
3. Carlos Sainz, 26
4. Colin McRae, 25
5. Tommi Makkinen, 24
6. Juha Kankkunen, 23
7. Marku Alen, 20
8. Didier Auriol, 20
9. Hannu Mikkola, 18
10. Miki Biasion, 17
Awesome work, champ!