Sebastien Loeb: I'm fast enough for World Rally Championship return
|By David Evans||Wednesday, September 27th 2017, 11:00 GMT|
Sebastien Loeb feels he still has the pace to compete in the World Rally Championship despite the five years that have passed since his last full-time rally programme in 2012.
Loeb tested Citroen's C3 WRC on gravel for the first time in Spain last week and after that day of running - his first on the loose in the new specification World Rally Car - the nine-time champion declared himself happy with his speed.
"It's nearly five years I didn't drive the World Rally Car on gravel," said Loeb.
"It was a question if I would be able to drive with the WRC on gravel and if I would be able to drive correctly.
"The feeling was quite good and it came quite quickly. I feel comfortable in the car."
But while pleased with his pace, Loeb said his priority remains the World Rallycross Championship.
He intends to stay with the Peugeot-Hansen team in World RX if it can turn its 208 into a challenger to the Volkswagen Polo GTI that has dominated this season with Petter Solberg's PSRX team.
"If we continue the rallycross then we try to make it seriously," Loeb told Autosport.
"Volkswagen came this year with a high level because they used their experience and their car from last year; this car was developed with the WRC budget during a few years.
"Now they [PSRX] don't need a lot of budget, they take the World Rally Car, adapt it to rallycross and that's it.
"The cars we have are good, but maybe not at the level of WRC.
"If we continue then we try to improve the car.
"We have a few ideas of what we have to do to reach the level of Volkswagen. I don't know if it will be possible, but we have to try.
"If we do this then, for sure, this would be my main programme [next season] and this is what I'm hoping for at the moment."
But Loeb added that even if he stays in RX he could still "do a rally or two", and is hoping one would be the WRC season-opener in Monte Carlo - despite its proximity to the Dakar Rally, which he is contesting with Peugeot.
"Sure, the Monte Carlo Rally would be interesting," said Loeb.
"It's one of the rallies where I have a good feeling and I always enjoy it, but it's complicated with Dakar.
"We finish Dakar on the Saturday and the recce for Monte starts on the Monday.
"It would be really short [preparation time] and not the best way to start. But it is possible.
"At the moment there's no plan to do more with Citroen.
"I had opportunities to test on gravel and Tarmac and I did this; it's nice to get some sensations from rallying again and to bring my experience to the team.
"Why not another test? At the moment I am quite busy, but we will talk and decide what to do for the future."