Sébastien Loeb takes Gold at X Games ahead of Gymkhana’s Ken Block

In a thrilling finale to this year’s X Games, eight-time world rally champion Sébastien Loeb dominated the field in the RallyCross final after qualifying in 4th.

But it was a day of mixed fortunes for the fairy-tale story that brought the Frenchman to Los Angeles. Travis Pastrana, who lured Loeb to the event with a public challenge, was unceremoniously pushed out of the event, when 58-year-old Scottish fisherman Andy Scott rammed him into a wall. Pastrana’s Dodge Dart was so badly damaged he was unable to restart.

Pastrana was seething, as he watched Loeb dominate the 10-car final — a shoot-off which he helped set up, but was unable to take part in. the multiple X Games champion tried to take over teammate Bryce Menzies’ spot in the last-chance qualifier, but X Games rules didn’t allow it.

But Pastrana was not the only one who missed the chance to square off with the rally legend, long-time WRC rival Marcus Grönholm was hospitalised the day before when his Best Buy Ford Fiesta collided with a concrete post in qualifying, leaving him unconscious.

The Finnish rally legend, who currently leads the Global RallyCross Championship, had already qualified in 5th and was trying to improve upon his time when he hit the post. His team released a statement last night saying Grönholm had regained consciousness after sustaining some bleeding on his brain and was able to move all his limbs.

Loeb said after his victory, “We know it’s a high level event and I’m really pleased to win, ..but maybe my main rival, Marcus Grönholm, wasn’t able to race. I’m just happy he’s OK.”

Loeb drove a specially prepared 545bhp Citroën DS3 ‘XL’ in the event, based on a similar chassis and suspension to his WRC DS3. However the DS3 XL’s two-litre turbo engine develops 590 lb-ft of torque, propelling it from 0 to 62 mph in 2.4 seconds – in other words, not far off an F1 car.

Sunday’s race was a scrappy affair. After a restart Loeb shot into the lead, heading Block for a couple of labs before steadily pulling away. Block meanwhile ran the last 3 laps on a flat rear tyre, finishing more than 12 seconds behind Loeb. His Ford Fiesta teammate, Brian Deegan, finished in third with British RallyCross star Liam Doran finishing 5th – also struggling with a flat tyre.

“It’s great to have Seb here,” Block said, “but I knew him coming here meant one thing: that he’d be near the top of the podium, which is the way it is.”

Block spoke with Marcus Grönholm after the event, who seemed to have regained his spirits, saying he was pissed Loeb won.

Perhaps Loeb will return next year and defend his medal, but let’s hope for Pastrana, Block and Deegan that he’s not joined by any more current WRC drivers.

Image: Joshua Duplechian/ESPN/Red Bull

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