Sébastien Loeb has dismissed speculation that last week’s Rally Turkey podium might spell the end of his stellar career in the sport.
The nine-time world champion will be replaced by Hyundai Motorsport team-mate Dani Sordo at next week’s Rally Italia Sardegna (8 – 11 October), with Craig Breen expected to take the wheel of the third i20 at Renties Ypres Rally Belgium (19 – 22 November).
“For sure,” said 79-time world rally winner Loeb, “I will drive a rally car again, but in which championship and on which rallies I have no idea. I have a plan for Dakar and I will know more about that soon.”
If Turkey was Loeb’s last outing in a factory World Rally Car, he signed off in style with third place, having led after the opening day. One incorrect tyre choice aside, Loeb was happy with his performance.
“It was nice,” said Loeb. “I was happy that I could find again the rhythm for the driving and to lead and fight with the drivers at the front. This was good. I wasn’t so happy to destroy my tyres on the first morning – this wasn’t so good. But I’m happy.”
Loeb also talked in glowing terms about the performance of the current headline category cars.
“The cars when I started my career were really good, really nice, but you can’t compare them to now. The suspension, the engine management, the tyres, even the grip and the speed we can have in the stages is just amazing compared with the past.
“I enjoyed my career with this sport and, like I always say, it’s incredible to be able to drive these cars we have now. I really missed driving (Turkey was Loeb’s first event since Rallye Monte-Carlo in January) and to come back to this car again was nice.
“You know, the things you can do with these cars is just amazing. You cannot imagine what you can do on the rough stages and how we can play with the car and the performance.
“Like I said, I’m happy. I still enjoy to drive and I’m glad I found the rhythm again. Let’s see what’s next,” added the 46-year-old Frenchman.