Sébastien Loeb bowed out from the WRC on Rally France at the weekend
Loeb served notice of his talent by winning the 2001 Junior WRC in a Citroën Saxo S1600
His first WRC podium came on his works Citroën debut in Sanremo in 2001
Loeb 'won' the 2002 Monte Carlo Rally, but was penalised for an illegal tyre change
The first win for Loeb and Daniel Elena came on German asphalt in 2002
During 2003 Loeb outpaced Citroën team-mates Colin McRae and Carlos Sainz
Loeb, under orders from Citroën to finish consistently, missed the 2003 title by one point
Loeb dominated the WRC in 2004, winning six times en route to his first title
Success in New Zealand kicked off a run of six straight wins in the 2005 season
Loeb also showed his skill at the annual Race of Champions, winning three times
Two dominant motor sport competitors compare notes... and championships
After Citroën pulled out, Loeb spent 2006 with the semi-works Kronos Racing outfit...
...and despite missing four events through injury Loeb still won the world title
The Frenchman finished second at Le Mans in 2006 with Pescarolo Sport
In 2007 Citroën returned with the new C4 WRC, and Loeb continued to rule
Loeb won Rally GB for the first time in 2008, proving his mastery of all surfaces
Loeb prepares for battle on the 2008 Rally Finland, which he won
Loeb impressed in Red Bull F1 test in 2008 – but was denied a race licence by officials
Loeb rarely crashed, but as this roll from Greece in 2009 attests, he was human
In 2010 he finished on the podium 12 times out of 13 events, including eight wins
Loeb, seen here karting in 2010, is quick in anything he turns his hand to
His eighth successive win on Rally Germany in 2010 set a new record for consecutive event wins
Citroën introduced the DS3 WRC in 2011. Cue title number eight for Loeb and Elena
Daniel Elena has navigated for Loeb on each of his 78 WRC victories
Loeb in action on Rally GB in 2011, an event which ended with a rare retirement
Victory on Rally France, held in his Alsace home region, secured the 2012 title
Loeb with Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia, who have succeeded him and Elena as world champions
The WRC legend embarked on a scaled-down assault in Monte Carlo this year, and won
The 78th, and seemingly final, victory for the Loeb-Elena partnership came in Argentina this year
And for my next trick: Loeb conquered Pikes Peak in a Peugeot 208 T16 this year
Loeb's records in the World Rally Championship are unlikely to be eclipsed anytime soon
Sébastien Loeb bowed out from the World Rally Championship in France last weekend. Or rather he rolled out, making an out-of-character mistake by carrying too much speed into a quick right-hand corner and sliding into a ditch, where his Citroën DS3 WRC came to rest upside down.
The Alsatian and his navigator Daniel Elena were unhurt in the incident, but it wasn’t a satisfactory full stop to the careers of world rallying’s most successful crew.
Scroll down for Sébastien Loeb's career in numbers
At the age of 39, Loeb has called time on his WRC commitments to take up a new challenge with Citroën in the World Touring Car Championship.
It’s a move that’s been on the cards for a few years; since winning his first top-line rally in 2002, Loeb has destroyed all previous WRC benchmarks, and has absolutely nothing left to prove in the sport.
The standard of four WRC titles, shared between Tommi Mäkinen and Juha Kankkunen, was shattered in 2008 when Loeb secured his fifth crown in succession. He didn’t stop there, winning every championship up until 2012 and ended with nine accolades to his name.
In 2007 Loeb sped past Carlos Sainz’s all-time record of 26 WRC victories, and has now reset the high-water mark at 78 wins. By comparison, Sébastien Ogier, the newly crowned 2013 world champion and driver expected to dominate the sport in a similar manner to Loeb before him, is currently on 13 victories.
Markku Alén’s record of 801 special stage victories was also eclipsed, with Loeb and Elena ending their careers on a neat 900 after annexing four special stage wins in France last weekend.
Loeb appetite for adventure has seen him explore different areas of motorsport in recent seasons. He finished second in the Le Mans 24 Hours in 2006 with the Pescarolo Sport team, and was impressively quick in 2008 when he tested a Red Bull Formula 1 car.
He runs his own sportscar racing team, and famously won the Pikes Peak hillclimb in Colorado this summer, demolishing the course record in a highly developed Peugeot 208 T16.
This year he has only competed in four WRC events, yet has scored two victories and a second place. And yet you wonder if signing off with a failure to finish on his home rally will irk the perfection-seeking Frenchman, and whether he’ll be able to resist returning to the special stages for just one attempt to end on a high note…