Sébastien Loeb (French pronunciation: [sebastjɛ̃ lœb]; born 26 February 1974) is a French rally driver driving for the Citroën World Rally Team in the World Rally Championship (WRC). He has won the world championship a record nine times in a row, and also holds several other WRC records, including most points, wins and podium finishes.
Originally a gymnast, Loeb switched to rallying in 1995 and won the Junior World Rally Championship in 2001. Signed by the Citroën factory team for the 2002 season, he and co-driver Daniel Elena took their debut WRC win that same year at the Rallye Deutschland. After finishing runner-up to Petter Solberg by one point in 2003, Loeb took his first drivers' title in 2004. Continuing with Citroën, he went on to take a record ninth consecutive world title in 2012. Loeb is a tarmac expert, having won all but three WRC rallies on that surface since 2005.
Besides his success in rallying, Loeb is a three-time winner at the Race of Champions, after taking home the Henri Toivonen Memorial Trophy and the title "Champion of Champions" in 2003, 2005 and 2008. In 2004, he won the Nations' Cup for France with Jean Alesi. In 2006, he finished second in the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Loeb was named the French Sportsman of the Year in 2007 and 2009, and made knight of the Legion of Honour (Légion d'honneur) in 2009. In 2012, he won the Rallycross final in his first appearance at X Games XVIII.
Loeb began his 2012 season by beating Mini's Dani Sordo to a record sixth win in the Monte Carlo Rally. He also secured the maximum points by recording the fastest time for the power stage. In Sweden, after hitting a snowbank on stage seven, Loeb was forced out of the fight for the number one spot. He finished sixth and gained three extra points by again winning the power stage. Loeb took his second victory of the season at the Rally Mexico, ahead of his new teammate Mikko Hirvonen. In Portugal, he crashed out from third place on the night stages of the first day, after misunderstanding a pacenote. The Rally Argentina was dominated by the Citroëns and Loeb drove to his 70th WRC victory. At the Acropolis Rally in Greece, he cruised to an easy win after Ford's Jari-Matti Latvala and Petter Solberg ran into several problems and dropped out of contention.
In July, Loeb debuted in the X Games in Los Angeles, facing his old rival Marcus Grönholm. Grönholm was hospitalised due to an accident in practice, and Loeb won the rallycross gold medal well ahead of Ken Block. He went on to continue his WRC win streak in New Zealand and in Finland, where he edged out Hirvonen to take his third win in the event. This marked the fourth double win in a row for the Citroën duo. After beating Latvala to the win in Germany, Loeb finished second to the Finn at the Wales Rally GB, after a tight battle for the position with Solberg.
In late September, Loeb announced his retirement from full-time rallying, stating that he would compete only in selected events during the upcoming season. He added that he is interested in taking on a new challenge such as the World Touring Car Championship. In his home event, the Rallye de France, Loeb built a cushion over Latvala and title rival Hirvonen on the first two days. He then held Latvala at bay on the wet roads on Sunday, securing a record ninth drivers' title in the World Rally Championship and aiding Citroën to its eighth manufacturers' title. German magazine Auto Bild noted that Loeb was now two world championship titles clear of Schumacher and Valentino Rossi, and dubbed him "the best rally driver of all time and a shining light in motorsport." Former world champion Ari Vatanen opined that Loeb's records are unlikely to be broken.