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I'm doing it just for fun, says Loeb about WRC return

Sebastien Loeb

Bengaluru, March 9: Legendary driver Sebastien Loeb, who made his comeback into World Rally Championship (WRC) in the ongoing Mexico leg is enjoying his return to an arena where he has triumphed a record nine times.

The Frenchman won WRC nine times in a row from 2004. He retired from the premier FIA event after his ninth world title at the end of the 2012 season.

The Citroen man then tried his hand in World Touring Car Championship and World Rally Cross before making a surprise entry in this year's Dakar Rally which ended in agony.

(With Red Bull Media inputs)

Comeback king

Comeback king

Now, having returned to WRC on an experimental basis in the Rally Guanajuato where he has won six times, Loeb was candid while admitting that challenges are much different with what when he competed in WRC last time in 2012.

"I don't put a lot of pressure on myself as I know it'll be complicated. I don't know these new cars, so I've to discover the new stages," Loeb toldRed Bull Media.

Level-playing field

Level-playing field

During his heydays the Frenchman was known for his fierce rivalry with compatriot and current world champion Sebastien Ogier, who is currently with the M-Sport Team. The duo were team-mates at Citroen before Ogier left for Volkswagen later.

At Mexico, Loeb will be up against Ogier, but the former was quick to admit that sport has changed a lot.

"It seems like there is less domination like there was in the past with me or Ogier. It's more open, so that makes it more exciting. The level is balanced," he added.

Impressed with Citroen

Impressed with Citroen

Loeb arrived in Mexico with not much of preparation, having just completed a two-day pre-event test in Spain, but admitted he is impressed with how far the C3 has come since he last drove it in September last year.

But he would not be drawn on what sort of result to expect in Mexico, when he and co-driver Daniel Elena make their first WRC appearance since a Monte Carlo one-off in 2015.

"I hope to be more or less on the pace," said Loeb.

"I've no idea where I stand in relation to the other drivers. You've to bear in mind that this is still the world championship - the other drivers haven't stood still over the last few years."

Just for fun

Just for fun

While Loeb has started Rally Mexico eight times, he was quick to point out that the route has evolved since he was last there in 2012.
"Twenty-eight per cent of the course is going to be new to me, compared with just 4 per cent for the others, but that's pretty positive, because it is one of the events I still know best," he said.

"However, my memories of the 72 per cent that I've driven before go back six years, so I've done a little bit of work so that I don't feel completely disorientated.
"I hope my 11th position in the running order will help me to get my bearings because, with the current regulations, you really need to have a good first day otherwise your rally suffers."

After Mexico, Loeb is also expected to do two more WRC rounds in Corsica and Spain. But he remained coy about his future in the championship and justified the rationale behind his comeback.
"I enjoy a lot of different disciplines, but the sensation you can get in a rally car - the speed - it is something different. I don't have a precise target, I just do it for fun".

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    Story first published: Friday, March 9, 2018, 11:39 [IST]
    Other articles published on Mar 9, 2018
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