These days, Sébastien Loeb doesn’t get behind the wheel of rally cars very often. You can’t blame him; after a decade of dominance in the World Rally Championship with Citroën, it’s only natural that he’d want a new challenge.
His fledgling campaign in the World Touring Car Championship is absorbing his full commitment, so before I ride with him around the forest stage at last weekend’s Goodwood Festival of Speed, he admits it’s been more than a year since he’s driven the DS3 World Rally Car on gravel. Back to Rally Argentina 2013, in fact, where he collected his 78th and final world championship victory.
So, first things first, I have to get into the car, which proves a challenge in itself. Obviously, this kind of thing is far simpler when you’re a dedicated athlete rather than a wheezy car hack who has enjoyed too many corporate sandwiches. After contorting myself through the roll cage struts across the passenger door opening, I struggle to wedge my backside into the Citroën's bucket seat.
The protective seat is designed to hold its occupant firmly in place, with no lateral movement at all, so it is extremely pinched around the hips. Perhaps that morning’s sausage baguette was to blame but I can’t wedge myself right down into the seat – and so it’s a struggle to get the six-point harness secured.