Growing up, we’re often told that it’s not the winning that matters, it’s the taking part.
Naturally, in motorsport that’s just not the reality. If you don’t win, you don’t make it to the top-tier championships.
So looking at the leaderboard at the end of Friday on the Monte Carlo Rally, you’d be forgiven for writing Pierre-Louis Loubet’s day off.
After eight stages, he’s 29th overall and just over 11 and a half minutes behind rally leader Sébastien Ogier. That’s a disaster, right?
On the one hand yes, but on another it’s a victory in itself that he managed to even finish the day.
It had been a steady start to the rally for Loubet, but he was quietly building his confidence and his pace until SS5 where his day took an almighty twist, literally, as he slid off the road, hit a sign-post and lost the power steering on his M-Sport Puma Rally1.
He made it to the end of the stage, losing a minute and a half in the process, but with the damage to his power-steering – and considering the fact he was heading for a tire fitting zone not a mid-day service – many just assumed he would retire for the day and get the car fixed so he could continue tomorrow.
Turning a rally car without power-steering is no easy feat. It’s nigh on impossible to move the steering wheel, and to do it for a single stage is an endurance test alone. But Loubet still had three stages to do. It was an impossibility surely?
Well, as it turns out, it wasn’t.
Maybe Loubet is really the Hulk, or even Hercules. Who knows, but his performance felt almost other-wordly to some extent.
Listen to the onboard footage and you can hear him groaning in pain as he attempts to navigate his car through the next 32 miles.
Grit, determination and a dose of adrenalin pulled Loubet through.
Speaking at the end of the day he said that his arms weren’t too bad. You wait until the lactic acid kicks in on Saturday. You’ll feel it then!
But despite how difficult the task ahead was, Loubet completed it – without pulling over, without losing a ridiculous amount of time.
In the end, Loubet lost around 10 minutes by pushing on, but while there was a lot of short term pain, there’s definitely a heavy dose of long-term gain, for retiring would have cost him four times more.
Nobody would have blamed Loubet for taking the easy option, most people would. But despite knowing how physically tough and painful it was going to be, he did it anyway.
And this is why Loubet is a winner on Friday night.
Relatively speaking he might be out of the game when it comes to a result, but the fact that approach came to mind without hesitation and that he then pulled it off with limited time loss demonstrates not only how smart he is, but also the potential that underlies him.
It was a very clever approach and it won’t have gone unnoticed. Not to mention the fact that M-Sport now believe he’s some kind of superhero.
But while some will be scouring the results this evening and then assuming he’s a loser disregarding the context, the reality is Ogier wasn’t the biggest winner on Friday. Loubet was.