Sebastien Loeb gets part-time Citroen World Rally Championship deal

Sebastien Loeb will return to the World Rally Championship in 2018 for a three-round programme with Citroen

Sebastien Loeb gets part-time Citroen World Rally Championship deal

The 43-year-old nine-time champion tested a C3 WRC on asphalt and gravel this year and will make his comeback on Rally Mexico next March before also tackling Corsica and Spain.

"Everyone was pleased after the test sessions done this year - myself first and foremost - and these three appearances were the next logical step," said Loeb.

"The feeling you get in rallying is one of the most thrilling feelings I have ever experienced, and I was excited about driving one of these new WRCs [competitively]. And it's nice to be able to do it in the team with which I have enjoyed so much success."

Citroen is reducing its full-time WRC line-up to two cars, with Kris Meeke contesting all 13 rounds but team-mate Craig Breen sitting out Loeb's three rallies. Khalid Al-Qassimi will drive a third C3 on selected events.

Stephane Lefebvre, Citroen's third driver in 2017, will drop back to WRC2 in the firm's new R5 car.

Loeb's last WRC outing was a one-off on the 2015 Monte Carlo Rally, where he led before damaging a wheel.

"I don't have any expectations, I just want to enjoy myself," he said of his 2018 WRC programme.

"I thought it made sense to take part in the French round, especially since I've always loved racing on Tarmac, although I'm not familiar with the current route of the Tour de Corse. Spain seemed like a good option too.

"I also wanted to contest a gravel rally. We opted for Mexico, since I have good memories of racing there and the route hasn't changed too much since I was last involved in the championship."

Team principal Yves Matton said Loeb "couldn't have returned to the WRC with anyone other than us".

"Seb confirmed he has lost none of his speed and skill during the test sessions, although he is bound to be short of knowledge of the stages and time in the car, compared with the increasingly tough competition," Matton added.

Alongside his WRC appearances, Loeb will also contest the Dakar Rally and World Rallycross Championship with Citroen's sister brand Peugeot.

Citroen won two rallies with Meeke in 2017 as its factory programme resumed but had a difficult season overall and was last in the manufacturers' championship.

"We learned a lot during the first season with the Citroen C3 WRC and we've gathered a lot of information to help us do better in 2018," said Meeke.

"Despite a few tough moments, we managed to show our potential. We won't be taking anything for granted but by working in a relaxed and calm manner, we can achieve good things."

Matton intimated that the focus was on a drivers' title bid for Meeke rather than the manufacturers' championship.

"The aim will be to target podiums and secure some wins, but Kris can also go for position in the championship," he said.

shares
comments
Mads Ostberg willing to drop to WRC2 to stay in WRC for 2018

Previous article

Mads Ostberg willing to drop to WRC2 to stay in WRC for 2018

Next article

Breen: Citroen's C3 WRC car becoming 'more compliant' ahead of 2018

Breen: Citroen's C3 WRC car becoming 'more compliant' ahead of 2018
Load comments
How Neuville stole the show from Ogier vs Evans slugfest in Spain Plus

How Neuville stole the show from Ogier vs Evans slugfest in Spain

While all pre-event chat focused on the two World Rally Championship title fighters, their closest challenger charged into the spotlight on Rally Spain. Thierry Neuville's star turn and another strong drive from Elfyn Evans in his fight with Sebastien Ogier made for an intriguing event as the 2021 campaign nears its crunch point

WRC
Oct 18, 2021
The steely determination behind the WRC’s Solberg 2.0 Plus

The steely determination behind the WRC’s Solberg 2.0

Two decades after Petter Solberg emerged as a World Rally Championship winner, his son Oliver is ready to take the WRC by storm. Having secured a part-time WRC factory drive for Hyundai in 2022, he's raring to repay the marque's faith in him and follow in his 2003 champion father's footsteps

WRC
Oct 14, 2021
Analysing the key moves in WRC’s 2022 silly season Plus

Analysing the key moves in WRC’s 2022 silly season

The World Rally Championship will step into a new hybrid era in 2022, but the car changes haven't been the only excitement that has built within the paddock. WRC's 'silly season' kicked off in a big way and all the key driver moves for 2022 - of which there are many - look set to shake things up

WRC
Oct 13, 2021
How joining Finland’s exclusive club was Evans' true WRC coming-of-age Plus

How joining Finland’s exclusive club was Evans' true WRC coming-of-age

By his own admission, the fifth World Rally Championship victory of Elfyn Evans' career in Finland last weekend was the drive of his life. Winning five stages in a row and soaking up huge pressure from the Hyundais on the fastest gravel stages around, the Welshman put in a faultless showing that proved what he is truly made of

WRC
Oct 4, 2021
Does Neuville have a point with his Rally1 rant? Plus

Does Neuville have a point with his Rally1 rant?

OPINION: Thierry Neuville's diatribe against the upcoming Rally1-spec machines that will usher in the World Rally Championship's new hybrid era was remarkable in an era where drivers are usually reticent to air their views in public. But are the Belgian's concerns about speed, safety and cost entirely valid?

WRC
Sep 16, 2021
How the WRC's new flying Finn reached new heights in the Greek mountains Plus

How the WRC's new flying Finn reached new heights in the Greek mountains

After Kalle Rovanpera’s historic feat at Rally Estonia, the Finn scaled new heights at the Rally of the Gods with a commanding victory. And this time Toyota’s young star demonstrated why the future is bright with his devastating speed and consistency at the Acropolis Rally

WRC
Sep 13, 2021
The WRC drivers that came of age at the Acropolis Rally Plus

The WRC drivers that came of age at the Acropolis Rally

Five drivers have won first time out at the Rally Acropolis, transcending the tough dirt and gravel Greek roads to cement a place in rallying folklore. Here are three of the first-time winners' tales

WRC
Sep 9, 2021
Understanding Suninen’s sudden WRC exit gamble Plus

Understanding Suninen’s sudden WRC exit gamble

From being considered a likely contender to drive the next-generation M-Sport Ford Puma in 2022, Teemu Suninen's abrupt exit has created plenty of questions. The Finn's bid to become his country's next World Rally Championship winner won't be furthered by being sidelined, but there may be reason behind the decision

WRC
Sep 2, 2021