Loeb Banking on Citroen Return

Sebastien Loeb has revealed he is banking on a works return by Citroen in 2007, and is planning to drive for a privateer team next season

Loeb Banking on Citroen Return

Loeb had an offer from Ford for next year, but with them signing Marcus Gronholm, the world champion has chosen not to join the blue oval when Citroen withdraws at the end of this season.

The Frenchman told his official website that he is counting on the World Motorsport Council approving changes to reduce costs when it meets next Thursday, which would mean Citroen could give the green light to a full works return in 2007.

In readiness for any announcement from the French manufacturer, Loeb is planning on driving for a privateer Citroen team in 2006.

"Now that Marcus has signed with Ford, my chances of joining that team next year are reduced," Loeb said. "I took a risk and I take the responsibility for it. I plan around a return of Citroen in 2007, with a participation in the 2006 championship in a private team.

"For now we'll have to wait for the FIA meeting to know if I took the right decision. If the proposal for cost reductions is accepted, nothing could stop Citroen from coming back in 2007. Whatever happens, I should easily find a team but maybe not in the same conditions as at Ford.

"If we decide to go with a private team, the brand name will be well-represented. If I go with Kronos or with Oreca, I would like to keep my engineer (Didier Clement) and my chief car engineer. They know me well and know the car by heart, they know how I drive and which set-ups suit me well.

"I think it would be a good thing for me and the team. I sincerely hope that it will be possible. Citroen gave me a chance, and we arrived at this level together. It is important that I don't let them down, it could - I think - affect their decision to return. I really want to stay with them and my co-driver Daniel Elena feels the same."

Loeb revealed that Citroen will keep on some staff next season to develop a WRC car around their C4 model, and to prepare for 2007. Loeb believes that he could be a title contender next season in the Xsara that has been dominant this year.

"My hope is to keep my title next year," Loeb added. "There are many expected changes because of the new regulations. We will probably use mechanical differentials and a lot less electronics. We'll have to set-up the Xsara to these conditions. I expect that the 2006 season will be very competitive."

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