I've never been a huge Sebastien Loeb fan, but must now (finally) swallow some pride and admit that the man's a genius. A freak. A magician.
He's the greatest rally driver of all time.
There, I've said it, and while the magic and the mystery always had me believing the greatest of all time was Ari Vatanen, Walter Rohrl or Colin McRae, the fact of the matter is that none of those guys come close to what Loeb has achieved.
Put simply, statistics don't lie. Loeb's victory at Rally Catalunya was his 79th - yes, 79th - World Rally Championship win.
That's an astonishing 35 wins more than the next best (Ogier), and over 55 wins more than both Tommi Makinen and Juha Kankkunen. And both those guys won four world titles!
Winners are grinners. Sebastien Loeb after WRC win #79. Photo: Luis Camara
Loeb is now 44 years old, and hasn't had a full-time WRC program since 2012, six years ago. This year he only contested three rallies, and each time showed beyond doubt that he's still 'go it'.
With three drivers pushing to the limit for the 2018 world title in Spain, Loeb was not only competitive against them, he outlasted them and beat them all.
His drive on Sunday morning was one for the ages. Taking a gamble with hard tyres was the masterstroke that enabled him to take victory, and in the process gave Citroen its first win in over 12 months.
“I never believed I would win a rally again!” he said after the event concluded.
Most outsiders probably agreed with him, but talent is not something that can be bought, borrowed or stolen. Loeb has bags of it!
Loeb's customary backflip followed his win. Photo: Martin Holmes Rallying
The Frenchman's traditional celebration of a backflip on the podium also made a return too - just to prove he hasn't lost any of his old tricks!
It seems certain that Loeb's days of full-time WRC competition are over, but seeing him back at the wheel of the Citroen for five or six events in 2019 is now probably more likely than it was three days ago.
But then again, 'The King' may wish to make this final victory his swan song, to go out on top as the man who kept on winning - even at the ripe old age of 44.
Whatever the future holds for him, we've been privileged to have seen the great man in action.
Sebastien Loeb, I tip my hat to you.
Loeb's mastery on tarmac on the final day was something to behold. Photo: Martin Holmes Rallying
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