Sebastiens Loeb and Ogier Open WRC Season 1-2 as Part-Timers

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Sebastien Loeb, the man that ruined rallying, did not race in one World Rally Championship event last season. The nine-time champion has not competed in the series full-time since 2012, a year in which he of course won a championship. The now 47-year-old Loeb is completing his first decade as a part-timer, one that now finds himself hopping into a WRC with modern hybrids that look nothing like the Citroens he won so many titles in. None of that is is enough to stop him from winning a rally.

Sebastiens Loeb and Ogier Open WRC Season 1-2 as Part-Timers
© Massimo Bettiol – Getty Images The two greatest WRC driers of our era have opened the WRC’s hybrid era in stunning fashion.

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Loeb and new co-driver Isabelle Galmiche jumped in an M-Sport Ford Puma for this weekend’s Rallye Monte Carlo, the first-ever race for Ford’s hybrid Puma and Loeb’s first-ever race in with the Ford team that was once his major rival. He got up to speed quickly, and by the end of friday’s running he was leading the rally. He never looked back, winning his 80th WRC event and first since 2018.

But Sebastien Loeb was not the only part-time legend from France in elite form this weekend. Reigning and eight-time WRC champion Sebastien Ogier is partially retired, but in the WRC that often means a robust part-time schedule like the one Loeb had contested throughout the 2010s. It meant he was already back in action this weekend in Toyota’s new GR Yaris-based racer.

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He was not slow. Ogier started the rally by dominating a special opening Thursday night at the famous Col de Turini, winning a shakedown and two opening stages. He won three more stages on his way to second, finishing just ten seconds behind Loeb over the course of a dramatic WRC opener.

Loeb and Ogier now sit 1-2 in a championship neither will compete to win. Toyota’s Kalle Rovanperä, third in the rally, leads announced contenders for the 2022 title in third after one rally.

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