Loeb will "happily" play supporting role for Neuville

Sebastien Loeb has admitted he "happily" signed up to support Hyundai and Thierry Neuville in their bid for World Rally Championship glory next season.

Loeb will "happily" play supporting role for Neuville

Since Loeb's move to the Korean manufacturer was confirmed earlier this month, there have been questions about how the world's most successful rally driver would react to team orders.

Loeb, who will tackle a six-round programme starting with Monte Carlo, Sweden and Corsica, has admitted he's there to help.

 "Since a very long time, I am in the shoes of a number one or, at least, I fight in order to go and get the victory," Loeb said on his website.

"Even when I discovered Dakar or rallycross, the target was to be ahead.

"This time, with Hyundai, my first mission will be to help them clinch the constructors' championship and back up Thierry Neuville, the number one driver. The team's speech is clear and I'm fine with it.

"I stopped rally competition more than five years. I don't have the pace of the current drivers anymore, or their knowledge of the rallies in general.

"It is already awesome that a manufacturer like Hyundai give me their trust despite these parameters and I accept happily this number two/number three position and to race with less pressure, for fun, and with the target to bring them back points when I start a rally."

Despite that shift in strategy, Loeb insists he'll be pushing as hard as ever when he starts his first ever WRC round as a professional driver in something other than a Citroen next month.

Loeb said: "Once I have my helmet on, I'll give it my best to get the best result possible, as I always did. But the approach will be different.

"Also, Monte Carlo will be very particular. In addition to driving with a new constructor for the first time ever in my WRC career, discovering a new team, new people and a new path, we will only be able to get one test day to discover the car – the day before recce time.

"That's not ideal to tackle the hardest rally of the season. I hope you'll indulge me!"

Loeb admitted his three rallies with Citroen – a programme which concluded with a 79th WRC win in Spain – convinced him of more WRC outings in 2019.

He also confessed, prior to Peugeot's withdrawal from World Rallycross, he hadn't thought about his future.

"Two months ago," he said, "before the announcement of Peugeot Sport's departure, I had absolutely never asked myself any questions about the future.

"After Spain and our win with Citroen, I still didn't know what I was going to do but I couldn't imagine this would be our last race together…

"On my side, I had absolutely no desire to stop driving on top level. I had to think fast to bounce back. I liked Hyundai's proposal, with six rallies as a number two or three driver, and we went forward with the talks."

shares
comments
2018 in review: Indian rally drivers and riders
Previous article

2018 in review: Indian rally drivers and riders

Next article

Hyundai parts ways with WRC team boss Nandan

Hyundai parts ways with WRC team boss Nandan
Load comments
How Neuville stole the show from Ogier vs Evans slugfest in Spain Prime

How Neuville stole the show from Ogier vs Evans slugfest in Spain

While all pre-event chat focused on the two World Rally Championship title fighters, their closest challenger charged into the spotlight on Rally Spain. Thierry Neuville's star turn and another strong drive from Elfyn Evans in his fight with Sebastien Ogier made for an intriguing event as the 2021 campaign nears its crunch point

WRC
Oct 18, 2021
The steely determination behind the WRC’s Solberg 2.0 Prime

The steely determination behind the WRC’s Solberg 2.0

Two decades after Petter Solberg emerged as a World Rally Championship winner, his son Oliver is ready to take the WRC by storm. Having secured a part-time WRC factory drive for Hyundai in 2022, he's raring to repay the marque's faith in him and follow in his 2003 champion father's footsteps

WRC
Oct 14, 2021
Analysing the key moves in WRC’s 2022 silly season Prime

Analysing the key moves in WRC’s 2022 silly season

The World Rally Championship will step into a new hybrid era in 2022, but the car changes haven't been the only excitement that has built within the paddock. WRC's 'silly season' kicked off in a big way and all the key driver moves for 2022 - of which there are many - look set to shake things up.

WRC
Oct 13, 2021
Why winning in Finland was Evans' true WRC coming-of-age Prime

Why winning in Finland was Evans' true WRC coming-of-age

By his own admission, the fifth World Rally Championship victory of Elfyn Evans' career in Finland last weekend was the drive of his life. Winning five stages in a row and soaking up huge pressure from the Hyundais on the fastest gravel stages around, the Welshman put in a faultless showing that proved what he is truly made of

WRC
Oct 4, 2021
Does Neuville have a point with his WRC Rally1 rant? Prime

Does Neuville have a point with his WRC Rally1 rant?

OPINION: Thierry Neuville's diatribe against the upcoming Rally1-spec machines that will usher in the World Rally Championship's new hybrid era was remarkable in an era where drivers are usually reticent to air their views in public. But are the Belgian's concerns about speed, safety and cost entirely valid?

WRC
Sep 16, 2021
How Rovanpera reached new heights in the Greek mountains Prime

How Rovanpera reached new heights in the Greek mountains

After Kalle Rovanpera’s historic feat at Rally Estonia, the Finn scaled new heights at the Rally of the Gods with a commanding victory. And this time Toyota’s young star demonstrated why the future is bright with his devastating speed and consistency at the Acropolis Rally

WRC
Sep 13, 2021
The WRC drivers that came of age at the Acropolis Rally Prime

The WRC drivers that came of age at the Acropolis Rally

Five drivers have won first time out at the Rally Acropolis, transcending the tough dirt and gravel Greek roads to cement a place in rallying folklore. Here are three of the first-time winners' tales

WRC
Sep 9, 2021
Understanding Suninen’s sudden WRC exit gamble Prime

Understanding Suninen’s sudden WRC exit gamble

From being considered a likely contender to drive the next-generation M-Sport Ford Puma in 2022, Teemu Suninen's abrupt exit has created plenty of questions. The Finn's bid to become his country's next World Rally Championship winner won't be furthered by being sidelined, but there may be reason behind the decision

WRC
Sep 2, 2021