WTCC boss surprised by Citroen's decision to drop Loeb in 2016

World Touring Car Championship chief Francois Ribeiro said he was left speechless by Citroen's decision not to retain Sebastien Loeb for the 2016 season

WTCC boss surprised by Citroen's decision to drop Loeb in 2016

Citroen's parent PSA group announced last November that the manufacturer would exit the championship at the end of this year, when it will switch its focus solely to its World Rally Championship commitments.

As a precursor to its departure, the marque's works 2016 fleet has been trimmed from four cars to two - with Loeb axed from its line-up.

Ribeiro, whose relationship with the nine-time WRC champion goes back nearly 20 years, said he had been taken aback by the decision.

"Sebastien said he was surprised [and] disappointed; I would add I'm sad," he said. "I'm really sad. I was not expecting that decision.

"Their decision to go back to rallying was more expected to me, but the decision about Sebastien was not something I was expecting.

"I've known him since [French rally talent scheme] Rally Jeunes, since 1996. Sebastien was an electrician at that time, I still have a picture of him - it was not very glamourous - and so I met Sebastien when I was organising that.

"When he gave me a phone call to tell me it was over [with the Citroen WTCC team]... I know his voice, and I know how disappointed he was - and so was I.

"I was speechless. I did not understand but it's difficult to comment."

Having played a significant role in bringing Citroen to the WTCC, Loeb had entered the championship with the understanding that he would race for three years.

That the Frenchman, also a valuable branding asset to the championship, would not be given the opportunity to contest a third campaign puzzled Ribeiro.

"I'm sad for him and the championship that he doesn't have the chance, as he said on his Facebook account, to see how far he can go on his learning curve to challenge [Jose Maria] Lopez," Ribeiro said.

"Lopez is clearly one step ahead of everybody today but I am sad because I respect the challenge [Loeb took on].

"At 40 years old, you are nine times World Rally champion and all of a sudden you say 'next year I'm a rookie'. How many drivers can do this?

"In his mind he was programmed for three years and he knew that his learning curve would be progressive and it is sad to see that he will not be given the chance to go for that third year.

"But it's not his decision, not my decision, and unfortunately there is nothing I can do to help and fix it.

"I was not expecting this, I think nobody was. I haven't been given any explanation.

"I gave him a WTCC pass - it was a joke but I told him the door is always open and if you feel you have unfinished business with WTCC, you give me a phone call and we try to find a solution."

shares
comments
Tom Chilton joins Sebastien Loeb's Citroen WTCC team for 2016

Previous article

Tom Chilton joins Sebastien Loeb's Citroen WTCC team for 2016

Next article

Lopez: Honda, Lada, Volvo can all challenge Citroen in 2016 WTCC

Lopez: Honda, Lada, Volvo can all challenge Citroen in 2016 WTCC
Load comments
Why joker laps are entering the mainstream Plus

Why joker laps are entering the mainstream

This season the World Touring Car Championship looks certain to bring joker laps to a circuit-racing world championship for the first time. And it need not be the daft gimmick people may think

WTCC
Apr 6, 2017
The making of the world's best tin-top driver Plus

The making of the world's best tin-top driver

He has been overshadowed at Citroen for the last three seasons, but the retirement of Yvan Muller means the world says farewell to one of touring-car racing's finest talents

WTCC
Sep 26, 2016
Volvo's plan to conquer the WTCC Plus

Volvo's plan to conquer the WTCC

Volvo gave the World Touring Car Championship a major boost when it announced it would enter the series, but its ambitions don't stop there. JACK COZENS examines its programme, the S60 and what its arrival means for the WTCC

WTCC
Jan 18, 2016
The WTCC's Nordschleife gamble paid off Plus

The WTCC's Nordschleife gamble paid off

A 17-car field on a 13-mile track - the WTCC's Nurburgring Nordschleife gamble wasn't going to be easy to pull off. STUART CODLING explains how the series made it work

WTCC
May 20, 2015
Insight from a Nordschleife master Plus

Insight from a Nordschleife master

World championship racing returns to the Nordschleife this weekend. STUART CODLING got a lesson from one of the legendary track's few masters

WTCC
May 15, 2015
Becoming world champion for £100k Plus

Becoming world champion for £100k

The 2012 World Touring Car champion says he never had the money to race cars. Yet 2015 is his 11th season in the WTCC. He talks STUART CODLING through his journey from motorsport fan to paid professional - for little more than £100,000

WTCC
Mar 23, 2015
Can the vanquished champion bounce back? Plus

Can the vanquished champion bounce back?

The World Touring Car Championship kicks off in Argentina this weekend, and Yvan Muller bids to reclaim his throne from Citroen team-mate Jose Maria Lopez. He talks to STUART CODLING

WTCC
Mar 6, 2015
The top 10 WTCC drivers of 2014 Plus

The top 10 WTCC drivers of 2014

Citroen had no rivals during the 2014 World Touring Car Championship, and 'rookie' Jose Maria Lopez hit the ground running to emerge as a worthy champion. PETER MILLS rates the field

WTCC
Dec 3, 2014