Burns thought his prayers had been answered when the #21 Xsara WRC had a wild spin. Loeb dropped time and would have to continue with bent steering, allowing Burns to close to within six seconds.
With a repaired car and no loss of confidence, Loeb reeled off the final day’s seven stages to take a legitimate maiden WRC win. Burns had been mighty on the final loop, too, eclipsing his rival 4-3 on stage wins, but fell short in the final reckoning by just 14 seconds.
And so began a decade or more of Sébastien Loeb dominance. He’d win his ‘home’ rally another eight times over the next nine years, only faltering in 2011 when he finished second to team-mate and namesake Sébastien Ogier, and take an unprecedented nine consecutive drivers’ titles between 2004 and 2012.
And it all began 15 years ago today.
Rally Deutschland, 2002
1 Sébastien Loeb (F)/Daniel Elena (MC) – Citroen Xsara WRC, 3h47m17.3s
2 Richard Burns (GB)/Robert Reid (GB) – Peugeot 206 WRC, +14.3s
3 Marcus Grönholm (FIN)/Timo Rautiainen (FIN) – Peugeot 206 WRC, +1m19.1s
4 Colin McRae (GB)/Nicky Grist (GB) – Ford Focus RS WRC, 3m45.3s
5 Bruno Thiry (B)/Stéphane Prévot (B) – Peugeot 206 WRC, 5m18.8s
6 Markko Märtin (EST)/Michael Park (GB) – Ford Focus RS WRC, 5m33.0s
Photography courtesy of LAT Images