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WRC: who is the greatest rally driver ever?


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#1 mkay

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Posted 13 August 2009 - 02:51

Who is the greatest rally driver ever? I ask the question because I'm curious and, well, I want to know. I love rally, but apart from having played all the Colin McRae & Rallisport Challenge games, I don't know much about it.

Do you consider Loeb to be the best ever? Or... do you feel he has not faced legit & tough competition (ala Roger Federer, Michael Schumacher back in the days) which - ultimately - undermines his accomplishments so far?

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#2 OfficeLinebacker

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Posted 13 August 2009 - 02:53

Henri Toivonen

Next question.

:p

#3 pingu666

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Posted 13 August 2009 - 03:31

its loeb

#4 jcbc3

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Posted 13 August 2009 - 05:54

Unanswerable.

#5 FlatOverCrest

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Posted 13 August 2009 - 06:24

VERY hard question....

Loeb is without doubt one of the the greatest Rally drivers of all time, but THE greatest?

It's hard to say if in the same time and the same machinery he could have beaten Toivonen... Vatanen was blindingly quick as was McRae...Walter Rohrl was another great driver....along with Makinen, Sainz, Kankkunen, Blomquist and Allen...ALL were exceptional drivers in their time...

They each drove cars in different times to different specifications and different rules....

Can you imagine driving competitively all day..then having to do a 180mile concentration run back to service...events that went through the night and lasted 5 days....marathon events like the Safari Rally....

Rallying has changed so much in recent years and it could easily be argued that Rallying in the past was a great deal more difficult than it is today....so therefore how would have Loeb have compared in the days of the Opel Kadette or the Mk2 Escort... or the Group B Hey Day.....

It's near impossible to compare.....

But glad to see another person take an interest in the sport, all the while that the FIA are doing everything in their power to cripple the WRC at the moment!

#6 sir jackie walker

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Posted 13 August 2009 - 08:10

Loeb is clearly the most succesful rally driver, but the best? Impossible to say, as pointed out by previous posts. Different type of events, cars, and competition. For example Kankkunen's and Mäkinen's four titles might weigh a bit more than Loeb's five, as there was somewhat more opposition. Then there was blindingly fast Henri Toivonen...

As easy it would be to pick Sébastien, it's impossible to say, really.

#7 engel

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Posted 13 August 2009 - 08:50

How do you compare drivers from the Group B era to today :S

#8 Konsta

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Posted 13 August 2009 - 09:32

Drivers of Group B rallycars were just positively insane. I remember Hannu Mikkola "complaining" that his Audi was way faster than it ought have been. Huge amount of power but not much chassis to speak about.

That is not to say that I had had anything against those beasts. I guess it was -86 or -87 when we were at Killeri (that´s where the SSS at Finnish Rally is nowadays) - the cars left from Laajavuori some kilometers away and you could easily hear them coming all the way!!

Seb is the most successful so far but to appoint him the best is not easy. When those guys mentioned in earlier post drove, there was fierce competition between almost a dozen top-tiers. Champions back then were....champions. Nowadays it´s Seb vs Mikko.

#9 wewantourdarbyback

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Posted 13 August 2009 - 10:37

How do you compare anyone to Loeb? He may be brilliant but with the likes of Solberg stuck in sh*tboxes for most of this decade it's not been too much of a challenge.

#10 Rinehart

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Posted 13 August 2009 - 10:46

Hannu Mikkola.



#11 Rinehart

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Posted 13 August 2009 - 10:48

How do you compare anyone to Loeb? He may be brilliant but with the likes of Solberg stuck in sh*tboxes for most of this decade it's not been too much of a challenge.


That would be my question mark over Leob. In this era, the fields are sparse with top talent in top cars. I wonder how many WRC he'd have won in the 80's or 90's. I think his image would be pegged back from unbeleiveble to great.



#12 glorius&victorius

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Posted 13 August 2009 - 11:16

Kimi

#13 Kop Alonso

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Posted 13 August 2009 - 11:22

This is a tough one to answer .....

For me it could be anyone of Audis superteam from the mid 80s Walter Rohrl, Hannu Mikkola, Stig Blomqvist & Michele Mouton for piloting such an unweildy beast ...

Statistically you should say Loeb....however I think Juha Kankunen must be in with a shout as he has taste success throught many different era's of rallying ... from B to A to WRC

:up:

#14 Captain Tightpants

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Posted 13 August 2009 - 11:24

Colin McRae. No-one else has ever had the same impact on the sport as he did; it was McRae who revitalised the sport following the Group A hangover, McRae who took rallying to new audiences worldwide.

#15 Coral

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Posted 13 August 2009 - 11:31

Colin McRae.

#16 Thunder Chat

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Posted 13 August 2009 - 12:43

certainally my favorite drive would be colin mcrae for a great many reasons

the greatest driver ever though? i just don't think there can be such a thing, you could more reasonably have a hall of fame of drivers the contents of which i suspect we could all agree on

as to the current era, i think its a great shame we haven't seen Markko Martin up against loeb though i can understand his mindset, Petter would surely be in a Ford if he hadn't fallen out with Malcolm Wilson, i do think loeb would have had fewer titles if he'd had more than one serious competitor in recent years. He had gronholm, now hirvonen who to me is like gronholm only not as good

It seems sadly that by the time Latvala gets over his accidents loeb may have lost interest completely

#17 Panch

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Posted 13 August 2009 - 12:45

Toivonen or Makinen.

#18 chrisj

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Posted 13 August 2009 - 12:47

I always thought Walter Rohrl was really good, but i liked Mikkola and Alen bettter.

#19 Panch

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Posted 13 August 2009 - 13:02

Rally Worldchampions:


1978 Markku Alen FIN Fiat
1979 Bjorn Waldegard SWE Ford
1980 Walter Rohrl GER Fiat
1981 Ari Vatanen FIN Ford
1982 Walter Rohrl GER Opel
1983 Hannu Mikkola FIN Audi
1984 Stig Blomqvist SWE Audi
1985 Timo Salonen FIN Peugeot
1986 Juha Kankkunen FIN Peugeot
1987 Juha Kankkunen FIN Lancia
1988 Massimo Biassion ITA Lancia
1989 Massimo Biassion ITA Lancia
1990 Carlos Sainz ESP Toyota
1991 Juha Kankkunen FIN Lancia
1992 Carlos Sainz ESP Toyota
1993 Juha Kankkunen FIN Toyota
1994 Didier Auriol FRA Toyota
1995 Colin McRae GB Subaru
1996 Tommi Makinen FIN Mitsubishi
1997 Tommi Makinen FIN Mitsubishi
1998 Tommi Makinen FIN Mitsubishi
1999 Tommi Makinen FIN Mitsubishi
2000 Marcus Gronholm FIN Peugeot
2001 Richard Burns GB Subaru
2002 Marcus Gronholm FIN Peugeot
2003 Petter Solberg NOR Subaru
2004 Sebastien Loeb FRA Citroen
2005 Sebastien Loeb FRA Citroen
2006 Sebastien Loeb FRA Citroen
2007 Sebastien Loeb FRA Citroen
2008 Sebastien Loeb FRA Citroen

Edited by Panch, 13 August 2009 - 13:02.


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#20 Dudley

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Posted 13 August 2009 - 13:38

There's no case for McRae.

The greatest rally driver of all time would have spent a lot less time throwing it into the scenery.

I'd tend to say Juha. 4 championships with 3 teams (Loeb and Makinen only won with 1) and doing so years apart.

Edited by Dudley, 13 August 2009 - 13:44.


#21 Melbourne Park

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Posted 13 August 2009 - 13:42

You can go back further, remember Sandro Munari, and remember the Lancia Stratos?

The best rally driver is an easy choice for me. Jim Clark. He started rallying and hill climbing, but then got an open wheeler gig, and did rather well. He also won in saloon cars. He had led the only proper rally he competed in, the British RAC rally. He'd have been faster than any on that list IMO.





#22 HSJ

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Posted 13 August 2009 - 13:46

You can make arguments for Mäkinen, Kankkunen and Sainz, but after those three, no one comes close.

Current WRC is starving for both driving talent and competitive teams. Loeb's stats are impressive, but mostly down to superior cars and team, lack of real teammates and most of all lack of seriously competitive teams in WRC. Grönholm was as good as Loeb, but had slightly worse cars and team. There was once a chance that Loeb and Grönholm would have driven as teammates, but Loeb chickened out. I think Grönholm's greatest merit was to face another champion (Burns) as teammates, while Loeb has had nobodies as teammates. Now, as we are beginning to see, Hirvonen is as talented as Loeb, but is years behind him in experience, and hasn't had the same level cars or team backing, so it has taken time for him to challenge Loeb. Latvala is the only one of the current bunch that is truly talented, but he's a bit wild and seriously lacks experience.

#23 JonC

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Posted 13 August 2009 - 13:49

I don't doubt that Loeb would have won titles in any era had he competed in. Remember in 2003, his first full season, he beat McRae and Sainz, his teammates, convincingly and only narrowly lost the championship to Solberg - and this was in no small part due to being told by Citroen management to back off on Rally GB to ensure they got the manufacturers championship. But I think that rallying has changed so dramatically in the last 30 years (more than any other form of motorsport) that it is impossible I think to put one driver on a pedestal...I think there's probably 10 drivers who you could list as being the "greats". Alen, Vatanen, Rohrl, Mikkola, Kankkunen, Makinen, McRae, Sainz, Loeb, Gronholm would be my 10.

#24 Gilles4Ever

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Posted 13 August 2009 - 13:49

To an extent yes but in Loeb's defence he easilly saw off Sainz and McRae in the same equipment right at the start of his career when he was still considered a tarmac specialist.

Edit: beaten to it by JonC

#25 JonC

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Posted 13 August 2009 - 13:52

Exactly, it's a bit silly to accuse Loeb of not having the guts to face champions as team-mates, when he faced two of the all-time greats in his very first season, and beat them convincingly!!!

#26 cheapracer

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Posted 13 August 2009 - 14:02

Hannu Mikkola.


Hannu or Walter.

Some of the responses are interesting, Mikkola beat Ari any day of the week anywhere, anytime, any surface whereas on a good day an older Ari could match Henri although Henri was the faster generally.

Walter simply was the fastest ever (and smoothest to boot too) - he was the fastest in FIAT 131 Abarth, Quattro, Opel Ascona, Lancia 037 of which in each he won a Monte Carlo Rally. He was pretty darn handy in his own personal Porsche 911 too. His speed in the Group 2 Opel Kadetts of course goes without saying to anyone who knows his history.

In Italy, he was elected "Rallye driver of the century". In France he was elected "Rallye driver of the millennium" in November 2000. A jury out of 100 worldwide motorsports experts elected him "Best Rallye driver ever". And that was for a driver who only considered his driving to be a part time hobby!

And in 3rd I would probably go for Markku Alen for sheer grit. Markku holds the record for the most stage wins ever by the way, I was surprised when I heard that because I thought Hannu would have the honour.

I think McRae broke way too many cars to be considered the "greatest".


#27 jeze

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Posted 13 August 2009 - 14:04

1, Loeb
2, Mäkinen
3, Biasion
4, Grönholm
5, Sainz

Below them I feel it's very closely contended between lots of guys (and Michèle Mouton well into top 20).

#28 cheapracer

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Posted 13 August 2009 - 14:10

I'd tend to say Juha. 4 championships with 3 teams (Loeb and Makinen only won with 1) and doing so years apart.


Juha was indeed awesome and his timing was great (or he was very smart), his cars were the best cars in each of his winning years - not to take an ounce of his talent away from him where as what Walter did in the Ascona then the 037 against the Quattros was something else.

so Jeze, your what, 15 years old? :lol: and Miki Biasion was blown into the weeds by err, umm, everyone.

Edited by cheapracer, 13 August 2009 - 14:16.


#29 pingu666

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Posted 13 August 2009 - 14:41

Exactly, it's a bit silly to accuse Loeb of not having the guts to face champions as team-mates, when he faced two of the all-time greats in his very first season, and beat them convincingly!!!


he did pretty much retire colin and carlos, and he has killed wrc aswell


#30 PNSD

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Posted 13 August 2009 - 15:48

Dont know a great deal about WRC, but I remember watching old vids and being hugley impressed by Juha Kankkunen. He had quite a smooth style didnt he? As a Button fan I took quite a liking to him.

Otherwise, I can not really even take a guess. From most recent times a driver to always supprise me is Peter Solberg, but the greatest? Difficult to say, the cars are so different nowadays, kinda like F1. We can just speculate and argue :p

#31 jeze

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Posted 13 August 2009 - 15:53

Juha was indeed awesome and his timing was great (or he was very smart), his cars were the best cars in each of his winning years - not to take an ounce of his talent away from him where as what Walter did in the Ascona then the 037 against the Quattros was something else.

so Jeze, your what, 15 years old? :lol: and Miki Biasion was blown into the weeds by err, umm, everyone.


I'm not 15, that's for sure I'm 18 years, five months and 15 days to be precise. Juha Kankkunen, Ari Vatanen and Timo Salonen all came very close to my list, but they ulitmately didn't get in. McRae was way to inconsistent, and you can't argue with he 1988 and 1989 seasons of Biasion, where he beat everyone else driving a Lancia, won the Safari in 1988, as well as being almost unbeaten in the rallies he contested. If he dropped off after that, then so what? He won two titles, just as Grönholm did, you can't take that away from them. That I grew up watching Mäkinen and Grönholm of course means that I'm a bit biased, but anyway, that's life :)

#32 George Costanza

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Posted 13 August 2009 - 15:56

Carlos Sainz has to be up there. He could have easily won it in 1991, 1994, 1995 and 1998. I think he was the greatest in the 1990s.

Edited by George Costanza, 13 August 2009 - 16:01.


#33 mursuka80

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Posted 13 August 2009 - 16:04

Carlos Sainz has to be up there. He could have easily won it in 1991, 1994, 1995 and 1998. I think he was the greatest in the 1990s.


Yet he didnt :p Im a Finn,so im little biased and i have only seen drivers from 90`s and 00`s so my top five is.

1.Loeb
2.Mäkinen
3.Kankkunen
4.Grönholm
5.Sainz

#34 Lazy Prodigy

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Posted 13 August 2009 - 16:29

greatness is measured in championships and Loeb has 5 strait. To me, its that simple. Weather he is better than other champions is debatable.

#35 RS2000

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Posted 13 August 2009 - 19:54

Jim Clark. He had led the only proper rally he competed in, the British RAC rally.

At what point was he leading the 1966 RAC?
The driver who did lead the 66 RAC until his car broke (except for the first 3 stages, after he punctured on the first) throughout the time Jim Clark was still running in it was Timo Makinen.
Timo Makinen has to be accorded the title of "greatest" because at his peak he was the one driver all other contempories expected to beat them if his car did not break. Since then, no one has been in that position. Loeb etc, despite results, are not held in quite the same awe by their contempories.

#36 pacwest

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Posted 13 August 2009 - 22:26

By the numbers:

Loeb

Raw talent:

McRae

Short end of the stick:

Sainz

Carlso should have won more. McRae could have kept it out of the rhubarb more. Loeb...Stopped paying attention the second year he was in group A.

My access to WRC was through Speedchannel back then. As soon as Loeb was on the scene, it was over. Can't recall the last WRC event I saw on telly. I miss the good old days.

#37 scheivlak

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Posted 13 August 2009 - 22:40

At what point was he leading the 1966 RAC?
The driver who did lead the 66 RAC until his car broke (except for the first 3 stages, after he punctured on the first) throughout the time Jim Clark was still running in it was Timo Makinen.
Timo Makinen has to be accorded the title of "greatest" because at his peak he was the one driver all other contempories expected to beat them if his car did not break. Since then, no one has been in that position. Loeb etc, despite results, are not held in quite the same awe by their contempories.

:up: :up:

Timo gets my vote as well, though I certainly have the greatest respect for Walter, Seb Loeb and let's mention Roger Clark as well.
To mention Colin McRae is just a bit over the top - he tried hard, but he never was the really best of the lot in his time.

Edited by scheivlak, 13 August 2009 - 22:43.


#38 Thunder Chat

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Posted 13 August 2009 - 23:24

think some people forget the reliability mcrae didn't have at subaru vs which makkinen did, which was one of the reasons he left for ford. Yes he did crash but i saw a program a while ago looking at wrc accidents that suggested makkinen actually had more accidents, they just were not as well reported and becuase mcrae had this image of crashing so it stuck in peoples minds.

I think people forget what he achieved, until he came along no british driver had ever won a round outside of britain, and he went on to win what 25 rallies? took subarus first win, their first world title followed by two so 3 manufacturers titles in a row, of course his own drivers title which at the time made him the youngest ever champion and first ever british champion.

His last full season did not liveup to previous acheivements, i don't think the way the cars developed suited him and he couldn't or wouldn't change his style enough to get out of it what loeb was.

I suppose my point is if you are talking about 'great' rally drivers while he may not be the greatest (but there isn't one really) you have to mention him, if you don't i don't think you know much about rallying

#39 DaleCooper

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Posted 13 August 2009 - 23:38

You can make arguments for Mäkinen, Kankkunen and Sainz, but after those three, no one comes close.

Current WRC is starving for both driving talent and competitive teams. Loeb's stats are impressive, but mostly down to superior cars and team, lack of real teammates and most of all lack of seriously competitive teams in WRC. Grönholm was as good as Loeb, but had slightly worse cars and team. There was once a chance that Loeb and Grönholm would have driven as teammates, but Loeb chickened out. I think Grönholm's greatest merit was to face another champion (Burns) as teammates, while Loeb has had nobodies as teammates. Now, as we are beginning to see, Hirvonen is as talented as Loeb, but is years behind him in experience, and hasn't had the same level cars or team backing, so it has taken time for him to challenge Loeb. Latvala is the only one of the current bunch that is truly talented, but he's a bit wild and seriously lacks experience.



The older you get, the less sense you make! :confused:


Cooper

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#40 Slyder

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Posted 14 August 2009 - 00:00

Kenneth Eriksson ;)

#41 Direct Drive

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Posted 14 August 2009 - 01:17

Walter Rohrl.
Stupendous talent always ready to win.

#42 cheapracer

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Posted 14 August 2009 - 08:34

I'm not 15, that's for sure I'm 18 years, five months and 15 days to be precise.


:up: Excellent, great to see some young blood following motorsport, most welcome.





I'm not 15, that's for sure I'm 18 years, five months and 15 days to be precise. Juha Kankkunen, Ari Vatanen and Timo Salonen all came very close to my list, but they ulitmately didn't get in. McRae was way to inconsistent, and you can't argue with he 1988 and 1989 seasons of Biasion, where he beat everyone else driving a Lancia, won the Safari in 1988, as well as being almost unbeaten in the rallies he contested.


Miki was the best of the rest and very much slower than the 'names', if you study his form and his competition pre and post 88 and 89 you will understand. Hey but what the hell, if you can luck the seasons so be it, as you say he will always be in the history books as a 2 times WRC.

Being a Finn (yes?) you should study up on Hannu's full history, you will be both impressed and very proud.




#43 thiscocks

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Posted 14 August 2009 - 08:56

Mikki Biassion is pretty under rated IMO

#44 cheapracer

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Posted 14 August 2009 - 09:21

if you don't i don't think you know much about rallying


Well lets just close the forum down mate and just read your blog/whatever and we will all be better off and supremely knowledgeable.


I think people forget what he achieved, until he came along no british driver had ever won a round outside of britain, and he went on to win what 25 rallies? took Subarus first win, their first world title followed by two so 3 manufacturers titles in a row, of course his own drivers title which at the time made him the youngest ever champion and first ever british champion.


So I'm guessing your from Botswana? Mexico is my 2nd guess.

So because no other Brit had won a WRC round or a WDC that makes him one of the greatest? No it doesn't, the results of preceding British drivers has nothing to do with it. McRae's % finishing record is piss poor in comparison to other 'greats'. He didnt know when to slow down.








#45 cheapracer

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Posted 14 August 2009 - 09:22

Mikki Biassion is pretty under rated IMO


Prove it, otherwise it's exactly that - an opinion.


#46 Taxi

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Posted 14 August 2009 - 09:52

Prove it, otherwise it's exactly that - an opinion.



It's Loeb. He's won in every surface, he's superfast, consistent and makes few mistakes.

then I would put a finn trio: Kankunen, Makkinen and Gronholm. at least as fast a loeb, but more mistake prone, especialy Marcus. Even so, if Gronholm could have driven for citroen alongside loeb he would have won at least one more championship.

then Walter Rhol, Carlos Sainz, Colin Mcrae, Maximo Basion, and Marcu Alen.

Henri Toivonen could been a great one, but he's like the Gilles Villeneuve of rally: died to early to say.

Edited by Taxi, 14 August 2009 - 09:54.


#47 alfista

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Posted 14 August 2009 - 10:15

Rally Worldchampions:


1978 Markku Alen FIN Fiat
1979 Bjorn Waldegard SWE Ford
1980 Walter Rohrl GER Fiat
...
2007 Sebastien Loeb FRA Citroen
2008 Sebastien Loeb FRA Citroen


Do you want to say there were no great drivers before the WRC for drivers? How about Erik Carlsson ("Carlsson on roof") or Rauno Aaltonen or Paddy Hopkirk to name a few? Their cars were not spectacular by any standards but they performed miracles. And yes, the rallying they did is very different to the modern one.
If I had to name one then it would be Walter Röhrl even if statistics-wise he seems not that good.
BTW, Markku Alén was NOT world champion, officially he was something like FIA cup winner. WRC was only for manufacturers from 1973-1978.

Edited by alfista, 14 August 2009 - 10:22.


#48 MegaManson

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Posted 14 August 2009 - 10:29

Henri Toivonen

Spectacular car control, natural speed, had everything, the Gilles of rally

#49 Thunder Chat

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Posted 14 August 2009 - 13:06

I'll admit i don't know mcrae's finishing % compared to other drivers, can you show the numbers to match what you are suggesting?

ok, comparing him with the rest of the world, not just britain :lol: he still stacks up well, who has won more rallies? loeb and sainz, yet he doesn't rate as one of the greatest?

He actually won a lot more stages than Makkinen and a lot more points, yet only one title to Makkinens 4 which was a combination of mcrae accidents and car reliability, and no i'm not from Botswana or Mexico, it may surprise you i'm from Scotland :rotfl:  ;)

I know i'm getting a bit fanboyish, but honestly maybe you don't like him or whatever, but how can he not be amongst the great drivers based on what he actually did?

#50 engel

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Posted 14 August 2009 - 13:28

I'll admit i don't know mcrae's finishing % compared to other drivers, can you show the numbers to match what you are suggesting?


I believe he retired from 60 of the 145 rallies he entered ... that's from memory, I m sure I have a link to his stats just can't locate it right now