A partial season in 2013, the WTCC project with Citroën and the Rallye de France stakes: Sébastien Loeb tell us about the latest headlines
Citroën Racing outlined plans for its future in motorsport in an announcement at the 2012 Paris Motor Show. So, you are not intending to defend your title next year?
“I have been asked about it so many times, so it had to happen eventually! It wasn’t an easy decision to take. On the one hand, I have to admit that I am little tired of the schedule imposed by the World Rally Championship. What with the test sessions, reconnaissance and the various other things, I spend a lot of time away from my family. Having said that, I still love driving and winning. This season seems to show that I still have the pace, but I didn’t want to stop after competing in one season too many either. I’ll still be around in 2013, but not as consistently as now, competing at rallies that I like and which are important for Citroën from a marketing point of view. I couldn’t not include the Rallye Monte-Carlo in my diary, so I’ll be starting the season on January 15 along with everyone else!”
The Brand has also announced that it is considering entering the WTCC with you. Who decided that you should go down that road?
“In the last few months, I have held lots of discussions with Frédéric Banzet and Yves Matton. Over the last ten years, I could have taken up offers to go elsewhere, but I have always preferred to stay with the team that gave me my chance. When we started talking about the role of ambassador that I might have in the future, I quickly felt that I would need an active role to feel completely satisfied. Given that I wanted to pursue my career in track racing, we came up with this idea together. After considering the various racing categories, the WTCC emerged as the best option. There are still a number of variables and imponderables in the equation, but I am excited about the prospect of competing in this championship.”
Before all that, there is the small matter of the upcoming Rallye de France. Many people think it will be a mere formality…
“Well, they couldn’t be more wrong! Our rivals showed in Wales that they were more than capable of matching us, although I think we should be quicker than them on tarmac. But first and foremost, we’ll have to contend with the itinerary itself! There are some stages that we know very well, and others that are new and we’ll have to get to grips with. If it rains, I think the race could be very complicated, with some very tough tyres choices to make. I’ll be going for the win and the world title, but nothing can be taken for granted before the finish…”