A standard 44- and 46-year-old WRC driver/co-driver pair in a slower car would be unlikely to win a race against the current generation, all of whom are in their twenties and thirties, equipped with the reflexes of hungry cats. Most stages have also been repaved in the last few years, meaning that Loeb could never cut a corner like back in the old days.
Yet when somebody is looking for an equalizer, Spain’s split surface stages and wet weather delivers. And once the roads get messy, a pedal to the metal attitude and conservative tire choices will have a hard time beating the finesse of an experienced hand.
Following the victory, Loeb and Elena’s return to full-time WRC with PSA is now up in the air. Unlike Kris Meeke’s. The former Citroën driver–fired by the French this spring for crashing one too many times–is back for 2019 with Toyota, a team with a seemingly faster car.
At 39, Meeke is WRC’s oldest driver. Under Tommi Makinen’s direction, he will be racing with a new co-driver replacing Paul Nagle, the man who helped him to all of his five race victories. Only time will tell whether that’s a smart move or not. What Loeb can tell, however, is that age means nothing in rallying. Even if entering three races instead of the usual thirteen makes winning one look easier.