October 26th, 2009
09:26 PM ET

Rossi and Loeb prove their superiority

By one of those strange coincidences that happen so often in sport, both Valentino Rossi and Sebastien Loeb wrapped up their respective world titles on the same day, making no mistake with the sort of assured performances which have marked their remarkable careers.

Rossi celebrates completing the ninth world title victory of his career.
Rossi celebrates completing the ninth world title victory of his career.

MotoGP ace Rossi was winning his seventh title in motorcycling's premier class and his second in succession, Loeb made it sixth straight world rallying crowns, an all-time record.

Both had to endure significant challenges during the course of the season, Loeb from Ford Focus ace Mikko Hirvonen, Rossi from his Yamaha teammate Jorge Lorenzo.

And both showed their incredible winning mentality when it mattered the most, with Loeb having to relegate Hirvonen to second place in the season-ending Wales Rally GB to leapfrog the Finn in the final standings.

Rossi wrapped up his title with a race to spare, needing to finish fourth in Sepang to clinch it, he claimed the final podium spot behind Australian Casey Stoner, keepng Lorenzo one place behind him.

It is a feature of great champions that when the question is asked they come up with the answer and both Rossi and Loeb have solved puzzles a plenty to stay at the top.

But are they the greatest of all-time in their respective sports ?

Statistically, Loeb has few peers, with his 54 wins a world rally record, but questions have to be asked about the overall competitiveness of the championship in recent years with this year's title race effectively a two-horse race between the Citroen and Ford teams.

Rallying fans may well point to the merits of the great Finns Tommi Makinen, Juha Kankunen and Marcus Gronholm while Spain's Carlos Sainz had few peers. Throw into the mix the late and much-missed flying Scot Colin McRae and there is room for much-debate.

Who do you think is the greatest rally driver of all time ?

In the same vein, Rossi has been a winning machine with nine world championships from 125 cc to MotoGP, but his fellow-Italian Giacomo Agostini is the all-time record holder with 122 grand prix wins and 15 world championships.

Australian Mick Doohan won five successive world 500cc championships and was totally dominant in the 1990s, while flamboyant British ace Mike Hailwood
won world titles and TT races on the Isle of Man at will during his incredible career.

So who is the ultimate maestro on two wheels ?

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Filed under:  Motorsport
soundoff (5 Responses)
  1. Elroy

    It's hard to compare competitors that never raced eachother under comparable conditions. But it seems in Rally and MotoGP there is less competition than there used to be.

    The same could be said of Formula 1 up to the current season, with the current season seemingly breaking that trend. However, towards the end of the season it was pretty clear in Formula 1 that the traditional top teams were well on the way to reclaiming their usual spot.

    So who is the greatest Rally driver of all time? There is none. Who is the greatest on two wheels ever? Same answer.

    There are however legens that will always be remembered on 2 and on 4 wheels. Some were named in this article, but there is also Juan Manual Fangio in Formula 1. And lets not forget John Surtees, the only person to become world champion in both the most prestigeous 4 and 2 wheel classes!

    October 27, 2009 at 3:58 pm | Reply
  2. Keith, La Rioja, Spain

    Whereas I have no interest in taking anything away from either Valentino Rossi or Sebastian Loeb – or Roger Federer – who are, evidently great champions in their respective sports, I see no future or anything useful coming out of comparing present with past: things have changed so much.
    Can you compare the technological marvel of Loeb's car with the SAAB driven by Erik Carlson back in the 60s? Obviously, no.
    Can you compare todays 4-day rallies with erstwhile rallies such as the East African Safari which used to go for 10-12 days? Obviously, no.
    Is Armstrong the best cyclist of all time? Or Indurain? There is no answer to such a question: times have changed, and techniques and of course technology.
    Better leave these kinds of questions in the sack.

    October 27, 2009 at 7:22 pm | Reply
  3. Sunil

    As a life long fan of motorbike racing, I have followed the careers of greats from Freddy Spencer to Eddie Lawson, Wayne Rainey and Mike Doohan. I have also watched nearly all the races involving Valentino Rossi from his 125cc, 250cc, 500cc and Moto GP. On quiet lonely day in December of 2003, I was present along with about 20 other fans, as Rossi tested the Yamaha machine for the first time since his switch from Honda. This was at the Sepang circuit. The bike looked anything but quick, and I feared that Rossi had made a bad decision in joining Yamaha. This was not a winning machine. But much to my surprise and delight, he won 2004 season opener at Welkom, thus becoming the first rider to win back to back races with two different manufactures. For his great charisma and fantastic riding skills, and his incomparable contribution in bringing more fans into motorbike racing, Valentino Rossi deserves to be considered the greatest motorbike racer of all time.

    October 28, 2009 at 3:46 am | Reply
  4. jc

    the greatest rally driver of all time is makkinen and rossi is the best motorcycle rider of all time

    October 28, 2009 at 10:47 am | Reply
  5. Rick

    Let's not forget 10 time world motocross champ Stefan Everts.

    October 28, 2009 at 11:52 pm | Reply

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