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WRC legend Loeb to make DTM debut with Red Bull-backed AF Corse

Rally legend Sebastien Loeb will make his DTM debut at Portimao later this month, joining Felipe Fraga in Red Bull’s line-up.

Sébastien Loeb, Red Bull AlphaTauri AF Corse

Loeb will replace Nick Cassidy in the opening round of the 2022 DTM season on 30 April - 1 May, with the Kiwi unavailable due to his commitments with Envision Racing in Formula E.

The nine-time World Rally Championship got his first taste of the AF Corse Ferrari 488 GT3 at Spa-Francorchamps last month and is also expected to take part in this weekend’s official pre-season test at Hockenheim.

With Cassidy also likely to miss the Norisring round in July due to Formula E clashes, and potentially the Spa weekend due to a clash with the FIA World Endurance Championship, Loeb could be in line for further DTM appearances later in the year.

“Throughout my career, I have always liked to change between disciplines," said Loeb. "DTM is a famous championship and as the opportunity came up for me to compete in it, I took it, of course. It is an exciting challenge because the driving style is entirely different.

“Now, it is time to work. I will be up against specialists in such racers and my last proper GT3 race already is a long time ago.

"My goal will be to find my rhythm as well as I can and I will try to use my experience to give the team good feedback about the set-up of the car. I know that it will be difficult but the cars really are fun to drive. Really fast, nice cars. Therefore, I am looking forward to it.”

Loeb has made a stellar start to his 2022 campaign, finishing runner-up to Toyota’s Nasser Al-Attiyah in the Dakar Rally before beating Sebastien Ogier in a two-horse race between WRC’s greatest drivers on his return to Rally Monte Carlo.

Sébastien Loeb, Red Bull AlphaTauri AF Corse

Sébastien Loeb, Red Bull AlphaTauri AF Corse

Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool

His 2022 programme includes a full season in the new FIA Rally Raid Championship with the Bahrain Raid Xtreme team and an Extreme E campaign with Lewis Hamilton’s X44 squad. Both those teams are operated by the British Prodrive operation.

Loeb is not the first rally star to compete in the DTM in recent years, with Ogier having made a guest appearance with Mercedes at the Red Bull Ring in 2018.

Speaking about Loeb’s debut outing, DTM chief Gerhard Berger said: “Having the most successful rally driver of all times with us in our season opener at Portimao is a genuine highlight that fans can look forward to. 

“The achievements in his career speak for themselves, but nevertheless, it will be a hard competition against very strong drivers, for Sebastien Loeb as well.

"Standing in for Nick Cassidy, he will be fighting for points with the AlphaTauri Ferrari, so therefore I am certain that a champion of his stature will be highly motivated coming to the race track.”

The AF Corse-run Red Bull squad won the teams’ title in the first season of the DTM’s GT3 era last year, with Liam Lawson finishing runner-up to Maximilian Gotz after a controversial season finale.

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