In the world of rally, Sebastian Loeb has success and titles to rival those of Valentino Rossi in the world of motorcycling. Rossi, however, can also race cars on a level equal to that of a rally pro. You may know that he has tested with Ferrari with an eye toward an F1 seat, but you may not know just how fast he is in a rally car. How about taking two stages from Loeb at the Monza Rally event, and finishing second overall . . . ahead of at least one other rally pro. The details are in the following press release from his sponsor, Monster Energy, followed by a video of his performance.
Each year, just after the WRC and MotoGP calendars finally wind down, an all star cast of racing greats get together in Italy for the Monza Rally Show. Supported by totally legit WRC and S2000 whips, plus tens and tens of thousands of ecstatic fans, the drivers race stage and head-to-head formats inside the walls of one of the coolest tracks on the planet.
Make no mistake, the event might not be on an official calendar but the talent on show is off the charts. Valentino Rossi has been supporting the event for years and this year, Seb Loeb (WRC World Champion) was in town to keep the timekeeping honest.
Valentino may be the GOAT (Greatest Of All Time) when it comes to MotoGP but it turns out he’s a savagely fast driver as well. Fair play, he’s done a couple of WRC Rallies as a wildcard but he’s not exactly got a load of time on his hands to practice on 4 wheels.
The 3 day event started super well for the #46 car and Friday night he was right at the sharp end thanks to a close second to Loeb. Better came on Saturday when he took 2 stage wins and meant he and Seb Loeb had separated themselves from the rest of the pack and left him needing to bring it home on Sunday to stand on the second step. Claiming the podium and finishing only 22 seconds adrift of a multiple World Rally Champion was an immense job and to think he had Dani Sordo behind him in 4th means he dispatched a WRC ace along the way.
The finale of the show was the head-to-head race (run in the memory of Marco Simoncelli) that took place on the start/finish straight in front of overflowing grandstands. As a knockout format there was zero margin for error and just as he had in the stage formats, Valentino produced a ton of convincing wins which took him to a semi-final with Dani Sordo. As convincing as he had been all weekend, Valentino produced the goods again and it was a final showdown with Seb Loeb as a prize.
The final brought Valentino’s only lapse in judgement all weekend when he clipped a tyre wall when throwing the car into one of the tightest sections on the course. It left Loeb with the title but no doubt about who the two standout drivers were of the whole event. Standing proud on the podium for the second time Valentino was quick to stress how much fun he’d managed to have whilst putting in a performance which could only be described as a masterclass in driving.
Props go out to the GOAT and to the thousands who camped out to support the team outside the garage and in the stands. It was a huge atmosphere and proof if you need it of how cool motorsport can be when everyone’s there to mix racing with a massive amount of fun.