Being a top driver in World Rally Championship competition is a dangerous way to make a living. After all, the races involve piloting a car at ludicrous speeds on surfaces that have less-than-ideal grip, mere feet away from obstacles like boulders and trees.

Driving to the stages, however, is supposed to be safe, since access to the course is usually restricted prior to the start of a stage. Newly-crowned WRC champion Sebastian Loeb learned the hard way that that’s not always the case in last weekend’s Wales Rally GB.

En route to the start of the 19th stage, Loeb and co-driver Daniel Elena were involved in a crash with two Spanish fans in a rented Skoda. Although Loeb moved left to give the oncoming car room on the narrow Welsh road, the Spanish fans forgot that Wales, like the rest of Great Britain, drives on the left side of the road.

The resulting crash was minor, with no injuries reported, but it was severe enough to puncture the radiator on Loeb’s Citroen. Although out for the stage, the French driver seemed indifferent, and BBC News quoted him as saying, “We are world champion, so no problems.”

Loeb and co-driver Elena wrapped up the 2011 championship on Friday, so the crash had no impact on the driver’s standings. Ironically, the Spanish fans were there to support Spanish Driver Dani Sordo, who finished 20th overall in Wales and earned an eighth place in the 2011 standings.