Sebastien Loeb is about to crash. At least, its seems that way, as the side of the five-times World Rally Champion’s Citroen C4 WRC - my side, wouldn’t you know - heads smoothly and rapidly towards the unappealing combination of one of Charles March’s finest trees and a hefty straw bale.

We are at least 10mph faster than we’d like to be through this deceptive left-hander, and for a fleeting moment I even regret waiting for Citroen’s mechanics to slacken enough seat belt to shoehorn my ample frame into the co-driver’s seat.

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Suddenly, though, the 300bhp-plus of the C4’s 2.0-litre turbocharged motor overcomes the slide, chipping away at sideways momentum and clawing us back into acceleration.

Loeb’s brain is, by this point, at least one corner further down Goodwood’s rally stage and the C4 doesn’t take long to catch up.

Seb is annoyed with himself now. There’s an extra bit of urgency -  disdain, even - about the way he’s flicking the Citroen’s paddle shifter, and his attitude gives me a better idea of why he’s so damn good. He’s been showboating up to this point but now, presumably mildly troubled by his unwanted drift, he defaults to regular rally mode.

Forget about slides; we’re on route one, so the C4’s nose skims trees and kisses bales as Seb demonstrates astonishing efficiency with his line through the forest. He’s working hard, but the car merely indulges itself in a mesmeric chain of tiny direction changes that allow him to keep the throttle nailed. The Citroen’s set-up - a devastating mix of traction and colossal torque between 40mph and 80mph - does the rest.

After what seems like a minute, but is really more than two, we cross the line. Fastest time of the day, by a tenth of a second. What about that tricky left-hander, though? The stubbled features of Loeb’s face break into a Artful Dodger grin: “I got it confused with the following corner, which is a gear higher. Sorry for that.”

No problem, Seb. We’ll let it go, just this once.

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