After being based on Corsica since 1973, the Rallye de France comes to the mainland and, more specifically, Alsace: the home of Sébastien Loeb. This corner of France , bordering both Germany and Switzerland, has produced a number of famous residents, at least three of whom will be in action this weekend:
Six-time World Rally Champion Sebastien Loeb is undoubtedly one of the region’s most famous sons – and by the time he ends the rally on Sunday, he could well be a seven-time World Champion. All he has to do is win the event, and it so happens that the final stage of the rally is a four-kilometre superspecial that runs through the streets of his hometown of Haguenau. You might almost think that the whole thing had been stage-managed. But that sort of thing doesn’t happen in modern motorsport. Does it?
The 2008 World Touring Car Champion (and 10-time ice-racing champion) was born in Altkirch, not far from the border with Switzerland. His ambition has always been to go rallying though, and this year he finally gets his wish – although he’s actually attempted the Dakar before. Yvan will drive an ageing Citroen Xsara WRC as team-mate to Petter Solberg, although he is currently leading the WTCC in his Chevrolet Cruze. “I think the difference between circuit racing and rallying is like the difference between football and rugby,” he said. Kimi Raikkonen is sure to agree.
Speaking of football, former Monaco, Nagoya Grampus and now Arsenal manager is from Strasbourg. As a player, he cut a gangly figure on the football field and consequently was never a colossus of the game. However, when it comes to football management, there are few better. Wenger has an eye for spotting young talent and has nurtured a host of young players into heroes, not least Thierry Henry. He’s perhaps less good at spotting mistakes made by his own team, often cryptically muttering the words “I did not see it” when asked to comment on controversial incidents.
France’s – OK, the world’s – most famous mime artist was born in Strasbourg in 1923. Also known as ‘Bip the Clown’ he achieved worldwide fame and even inspired Michael Jackson’s moonwalk, to the extent that his renown reached the point where March 18 was designated Marcel Marceau day in New York. He died aged 84 in 2007 at the racetrack in Cahors, France. His last words were: “_______”.
The Littlest Hobo
He may have been the cult star of a Canadian television series, but there was absolutely no doubt that he was an Alsatian too. The show first aired from 1963 to 1965 and then came back for a second run from 1979 to 1985. The German Shepherd dog in question used to wander round from town to town with seemingly no permanent base, interacting with the locals, having all sorts of adventures and rarely bothering to wash. In this respect, he has plenty in common with the World Rally Championship media corps.
- Sébastien Loeb on Rally France and that seventh title
- The Rally France on Redbull.com
- Kimi Raikkonen goes window shopping
- The new Citroen DS3 WRC unveiled in Paris