Having emerged from the busiest January of his career, it’s understandable that Sébastien Loeb finds the prospect of a quieter February quite funny. Very funny. Funny because, actually, nothing could be further from the truth.
The nine-time World Rally Champion’s manic start to 2022 extends well into this month and a chunk of March too. By the middle of next month, Loeb will have been in a competition car for eight of the year’s 10 weekends.
So much for retirement…
“It’s OK,” he says with a smile. “It’s really busy, but I don’t mind. Like we talked about Dakar and Monte, I really enjoy both of these events. I wanted to do both and I knew how close it would be for the time.
“I had one day [at home]. I came from Dakar on Saturday and then flew to the test [for Monte] on Sunday morning. The timing was tight and I didn’t have much time to see my daughter.”
And, as he took one step up on the podium nine days on from second in Saudi, it was worth it. On his debut with M-Sport Ford, he’d won the Monte for a record-equalling eighth time.
Fast forward six days from Monaco’s champagne-soaked Casino Square and he’s got the overalls on again. This time he’s donned the colours of Sébastien Loeb Racing for the Trophée Andros finale in his team’s all-electric Enedis. He finished fifth and, as usual, had a lot of fun on the snow and ice of the Super Besse ski resort, just south of Clemont-Ferrand.
Now, surely a break?
“Race of Champions is this week,” he says. Still in the snow, he heads way north for a Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport, a deep-frozen Baltic Sea and a battle with the best at the season’s annual gathering of global rallying – and racing – royalty.
“Andros Trophée is good, it’s just on Saturday,” he says, “and Race of Champions, it’s Thursday and back on Monday. These are not so bad. It’s not like Dakar again…”
ROC done, Loeb will get his first Saturday of 2022 to himself. Better not get used to it though.
A couple of days later and it’s east again, back to Saudi, back to Neom and back aboard the Odyssey all-electric desert racer for the opening Extreme E round of the season.
West again for a weekend off. East again for the six-day Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge – back to the Hunter BRX where he started his season on January 1.
When he steps out of the Prodrive-built and run machine at the end of the FIA World Cup for Cross Country Rallies round, he’ll be glad to put the overalls away. At least for a week or two.
Nice to get home, put his feet up and steer clear of the steering wheel for a while.
“Not really,” he says, “when I am home in the week, I think I am more busy than ever. Did you know, I have another job? I take my daughter to school and the daughter of my girlfriend, then pick them up, I take them to gym, to the dance [class] and everywhere. Honestly, rallying is just my hobby these days. My job? I’m a taxi driver.”
Loeb ends the call as he started it: with a smile. Busy as he is right now, he’s loving life behind lots of different wheels.