Born in Alsace, France, in 1974, Sébastien Loeb was a gymnast and athlete from the get-go. Twelve years of competing in that discipline took him to the very top of French gymnastics. But he soon got hooked on another passion, two-wheelers, and his competitive spirit really came to the fore. Speeding along the roads of his native Haguenau on a moped with a bunch of friends, it was a point of pride with him to always be in the lead.
At 21 and now a working man, Sébastien put every penny he had into a Renault Super5 GT Turbo, burning rubber up and down the local roads to practice his maneuvers, and driving the highway patrol to exasperation.
Two years later the budding racing driver was ready for a new adventure, and, with a couple of friends, he embarked on his first competitive car rally. Financially things were very tight and a lot of sacrifices had to be made, but Sébastien achieved some mean feats as a rally driver. The wins kept coming, and it was evident that here was a star in the making.
After an astonishing season in 2000, he was signed up by Citroën as a professional rally driver. Nine consecutive World Rally Championship (WRC) titles followed, from 2003 to 2012, etching Sébastien Loeb’s name forever in the annals of motor racing across the five continents where he has triumphed.
What’s more he racks up regular victories on asphalt too, finishing second at Le Mans 24 Hours and shattering the record at America’s illustrious Pikes Peak hillclimb, followed by two second-place finishes at the Dakar rally-raid, in 2017 and 2022.
His comeback to the WRC rally in 2022 at the glorious Rallye Monte Carlo was masterful. To everyone’s surprise he snatched a dramatic victory, scoring his 80th win in the discipline at the age of 47.
His other passion
Despite his busy calendar of competitive sports, the hyperactive Frenchman finds time to take a break now and then and get behind the handlebars of a motorbike, his first love.
In summer 2021 Loeb discovered the Indian FTR, a muscular roadster that he took out road touring around the south of France.
It was pure pleasure. Then in early 2022 he got back together with this bike that had shown him such a good time – only this time it was even better: he signed a deal with Indian Motorcycle that saw him take possession of the keys to a FTR R Carbon. At last, a machine that measures up to the man.
In a tangible expression of Sébastien’s bond with Indian Motorcycle, he agreed to honour the brand by becoming its official ambassador.
Giving this handsome FTR R Carbon its baptism of fire is also a chance for Sébastien to get his juices flowing again. Always the consummate professional, the nine-times champ thoroughly explores the FTR R Carbon’s different riding modes and electronic aids before taking off on the mountain roads around Annecy in the French Alps, in the company of two other FTR S.
It is February and there’s still snow on the shoulders of the road, but it doesn’t put him off his stride – he takes the road at a blistering pace! Being such a seasoned biker, he’s at ease in no time at all, and to get the full experience he disconnects the machine’s rider aid package that includes traction control, ABS and wheelie control. The winding road is a succession of sudden lefts, rights, and hairpin bends, which he takes fast and clean, leaning into them, braking powerfully with total control, carrying through the speed to the next corner – this man really understands riding and the road. Even in these winter conditions, he’s impressive. It may be freezing cold on the outside, but it’s warming up under the helmet and every time we stop, we can sense his big grin. After this first collective outing that ends on the banks of Lake Annecy, our little group heads for a cozy indoor setting.
Sébastien Loeb’s track record:
9 WRC World Championship titles
80 rally wins in the WRC World Championship
120 podiums in the WRC World Championship
Winner and recordbreaker at Pikes Peak in 2013
2nd in the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2006
2nd in the Dakar Rally in 2017 and 2022
On a personal note
Sébastien readily admits that he isn’t a long-distance rider, but he acknowledges that motorbikes have always been a part of his life, long before he started racing cars. As a kid Alsace was his playground, where he and his friends did enduro racing. He also tells us about his garage and the machines he owns these days; tomorrow he’ll have to find space for his FTR R Carbon among a variety of track, off-road and American custom bikes. “There have always been motorbikes in my life. I don't ride as much as I'd like to, but I’ll get together with good friends whenever I can and spend some time on the track or out in nature. It’s also a way for me to keep in shape and it gives me a different feel for the road than what I get in a car.” So how come he ended up as a rally driver? The answer is surprising, to say the least: “It was just a question of circumstance. Peugeot was organizing a national competition for up-and-coming young racing drivers, so I grabbed the opportunity, that’s all there is to it.” What if it had been a motorcycle brand? “I would have done just the same, I wouldn't have thought twice about it.” Sometimes one’s life path and entire career can come down to such random things!
Indian Motorcycle welcomes an exceptional ambassador in Sébastien Loeb, and we look forward to writing some historic fresh chapters together.
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