Sébastien Loeb, highly regarded as a legend in rallying, will compete in three races in next year’s World Rally Championship (WRC) season for the Citroën Total Abu Dhabi team.
Loeb, who won nine consecutive world titles between 2004 and 2012, will drive a C3 World Rally Car in three WRC races in 2018: Mexico’s gravel portion on March 8-11; on Corsica’s asphalt on April 5-8; and at Spain’s mixed surface fixture on October 25-28.
Daniel Elena, a regular with the Citroën rally team, will be the Frenchman’s co-driver. With Loeb scheduled for three races, Citroën’s regular driver Craig Breen will tackle the other 10 rounds alongside Kris Meeke. Thirteen races are scheduled for next year’s WRC season.
Rumors of Loeb’s return to the WRC began when he tested the C3 World Rally Car on asphalt in August, and on gravel six weeks later. He admitted the lure of racing anew in the WRC was hard to resist.
“The feeling you get in rally is one of the most thrilling feelings I’ve ever experienced, and I was excited about driving one of these new WRCs in a race. It’s nice to be able to do it in the team with which I’ve enjoyed so much success,” he said.
Loeb tallied 78 wins before retiring from a full-time WRC career in 2012. He has started in sporadic events ever since, the most recent being Rallye Monte-Carlo in 2015, before focusing on rallycross and cross-country rallies with Peugeot.
He has won the Spanish rally eight times, with six wins in Mexico and four in Corsica.
However, Loeb does not want to state his chances of winning at the WRC next season.
“I don’t have any expectations, I just want to enjoy myself. 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,” he said.
“Spain seemed like a good option too. And although I’m expecting it to be pretty tough given the time that has passed since I last competed there, I also wanted to contest a gravel rally,” Loeb added, saying the team opted for him to race at Mexico instead.
Citroën Racing director Yves Matton said Loeb’s tests convinced him the 43-year-old has not lost his touch.
“I’m delighted to see there will be another chapter in the great history between Sébastien Loeb and Citroën. He couldn’t return to the WRC with anyone other than us,” he added.