The nine-times WRC champ and Pikes Peak record holder chats about his Euro RX debut and the future.
Sebastien Loeb’s amazing motorsports adventure continued in France’s European Rallycross Championship round where his presence swelled attendance by an extra 35%.
Loeb’s presence as a ‘wildcard entry’ generated rock star levels of idolisation from the fans at Loheac with a second barrier needed to hold them back.
A broken driveshaft in his first heat on Saturday left him limping home in fourth, but in his next three heats he reached the top 12 to qualify for the semi-finals. Fourth place meant he just missed out on the grand final, but he had clearly enjoyed his panel-scraping experience aboard a 600bhp Citroen Supercar.
What do you think to your performance?
“We were not so lucky from the start of the weekend. I lost some time in the first heats and then each time I had to start on the bad line, on the left line, going into the first corner so it was not the best. But OK, it’s like this. I think my performance was OK… fourth in the semi wasn’t quite far enough.”
What do you think to this type of racing?
“It’s good, very intense, tough fights, short races, so interesting for the drivers and for the public also. A nice atmosphere: around the track a lot of spectators, a lot of motor sport fanatics for my first time doing rallycross in France.
“If you want to be in the semi-final you need to do very consistent races. The car is very good – like a WRC car but with much more horsepower. It makes a really good start. It’s quite easy to drive, but you need to be precise to be on the limit and to fight with the others, so it makes it a bit more complicated.”
Maybe with the contact it’s been good preparation for the World Touring Car Championship (he will contest it in 2014 with Citroen’s new C-Elysee model)?
(Smiles) “If I stay in this too much I don’t think it will be good preparation for WTCC! It’s a nice project for me to continue with Citroen and to move to a different championship. It’s something very different from rallying and I want to do something different now.”
What’s next for you?
“I have an FIA GT race before Rally France (in Spain). The GT programme could be better. We’ve not been very lucky… a lot of punctures, some little regulation troubles – little things like that. A bit frustrating because I know with my team-mate we are fast, we have the speed – we’ve twice been on pole position and twice second. The speed is really there.”
Rally de France-Alsace (early October), close to your home, will be your final WRC appearance – how about the atmosphere and emotions?
“Well there’s always a great atmosphere in France. The emotion… for sure it’s the last one, but in another way I am now focused on something else. It’s not the end of everything; it’s just the end of my rally career. I will go to racing. That’s my main motivation. I am happy to make this change. I’m happy with what I’m doing this year, the life I have now. So it will be OK.”