Why Loeb was below par in Japan
Sebastien Loeb wasn't on his usual top form in Japan - where he is idolised by the fans almost as much as in his native France. David Evans explains his apparent lack of pace
Sebastien Loeb tells an engaging tale of his fans in Japan. The same group of people are always waiting for the Frenchman when he arrives in Tokyo's Narita airport. They then follow him right through the recce and the rally. That doesn't just mean standing at the side of the road waving to him or out front of his corner of the service park, politely calling his name (cheering's not really part of the Japanese culture). They do all of that, but they're also waiting for Loeb in the lobby of his hotel every morning. Just to catch a glimpse.
Loeb told parts of this tale in the pre-event press conference for last week's Rally Japan. Loeb talked warmly about the fans, about how he felt in some way endeared to them. Kimi Raikkonen, sitting alongside his fellow Citroen driver, looked somewhat incredulous at hearing the tale of such fervent interaction.
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