Rally driving is a highly dangerous sport, with drivers risking their lives each time they take to the track.
Although medical advances and changes in technology, such as being able to [book a consultation with an NHS doctor: https://www.kry.care/ over your smartphone, mean rally driving is becoming more safer, it’s still an extremely challenging discipline.
In this blog post, we will introduce some of rally driving’s greatest names from down the years and talk about their achievements and why they made such a mark on the sport.
The Frenchman, who retired from the rallying scene in 2012, is widely seen as one of the greatest drivers of all time. He’s certainly one of the most successful, having won an extraordinary nine consecutive World Rally Championship titles between 2004 and 2012. Loeb, who raced for Citroen alongside co-driver Daniel Alena, was seen as an expert on tracks with a tarmac surface – indeed, the Frenchman had an almost perfect record on tarmac, losing just three races after 2005. Since his retirement from the WRC, Loeb has competed in several other race formats, including the World Touring Car Championship.
The man currently threatening to overhaul Loeb’s record as the most successful WRC driver of all time is fellow Frenchman and former Citroen team-mate Sébastien Ogier. Ogier made his debut in the same team as Loeb in 2009, but it was only when the nine-times champion left the sport that he came into his own as a rally driver. Competing first for Volkswagen, and now for M-Sport Ford, Ogier is currently on an unbroken run of five consecutive titles. Can he beat Loeb in the years to come? Few would bet against it, although he currently trails Belgium’s Thierry Neuville in the drivers’ standings halfway through the 2018 season.
Britain’s best-ever rally driver, in 1995 McRae became the youngest person to win the World Rally Championship; the Scot was just 27 years old at the time. He helped Subaru to three consecutive constructors titles in the late ’90s, but couldn’t quite repeat his early individual success. McRae was still competing in various rally races when, in 2007, his life was tragically cut short in a helicopter crash in Scotland. Despite the best efforts of the emergency services, McRae tragically passed away at the age of 39.
Finland has a rich tradition in rallying, with Ari Vatanen, Timo Salonen and Juha Kankkunen all winning WRC drivers’ titles in the early years of the sport. However, the greatest Finn in rallying history is undoubtedly Mäkinen. The former Mitsubishi driver won four titles in a row in the ’90s, while also claiming the 2000 Race of Champions title. Mäkinen, who is now in charge of the Toyota Gazoo racing team, is currently ranked behind only Loeb and Ogier in terms of drivers’ titles.