Nine-time champion reveals reasons behind 2018 cameos.
Sébastien Loeb won the FIA World Rally Championship an astonishing nine times before he switched to compete in the Dakar Rally and FIA World Rallycross. The Frenchman is back competing in WRC this season with Mexico, Corsica and Spain in his sights.
Here is what Seb had to say when we caught up with him ahead of Rally Guanajuato México from March 8-11.
What brought you back to WRC?
I enjoy a lot of different disciplines, but the sensation you can get in a rally car – the speed – it is something different. The new cars are looking nice and fast.
How did you choose the events for this year?
World Rallycross is my main discipline, so we needed to find rallies that could fit around that. I wanted to do one gravel rally and Mexico suited the best. Corsica is a French rally and it was possible to fit it in. Spain is a mixed rally between gravel and tarmac that I always enjoyed, so it is to get a bit of a different sensation.
How do you prepare for Rally Guanajuato México?
I do the same as I have always done. Try to stay fit with running and the bicycle, nothing really special. One test of two days driving before the rally. It is not a lot, but hopefully it will be enough.
What emotions are you feeling coming back?
I don’t put a lot of pressure on myself as I know it will be complicated. I don’t know these new cars, so I have to discover the new stages. I don’t have a precise target, I just do it for fun. Daniel (co-driver Elena) is also happy to go back there.
What is your best and worst memory of Mexico?
I remember the atmosphere on the podium there was always amazing. The weather is usually good, the meat is good and the wine is good. The worst is when I lost one wheel and I had to do two stages on three wheels.
Is WRC more competitive now?
It seems like there is less domination like there was in the past with me or Ogier. It is more open, so that makes it more exciting. The level is balanced.
Which driver do you see as the most promising?
We have (Thierry) Neuville, then we have (Ott) Tänak who is more and more impressive and consistent.
Which race gave you the most satisfaction and why?
The nicest moment in my career was when I won the Rally France in Alsace, because I won the rally, the title and the money for the title at the same time. The last stage was in my home town of Haguenau in front of my family and friends – the atmosphere was just amazing.
Your toughest opponent?
I had a lot of fights with Marcus Grönholm, who was my opponent for a few years.
If you had to thank one person for your amazing career, who is it and why?
Dominique Heintz, who was the guy who made the decision to start me in my first rally. It was on a very little level in a Group N car – 106 with hundred horsepower. He gave me the opportunity.
What are the main ingredients to get a WRC win?
It is a bit of everything. Driving skills are the main thing. To make a good preparation in the recce with your notes. It also helps to be lucky!