Jerry Williams  |    |   0  |  19 March 2018

Citroen WRC boss pushing for full-time Sebastien Loeb return

Predictably, after Sebastien Loeb’s brilliant drive in Mexico, Citroën rally boss Pierre Budar wants the nine-time champion to extend his WRC return beyond the three rallies planned so far. 

Loeb led Rally Mexico on his first WRC event for five years until a puncture dropped him back to finish fifth. Now Budar and Loeb's team-mate Kris Meeke both want to see the Frenchman in a C3 more often.

"We have an agreement for three rallies, this is the deal so far,” the team boss said. “We will go through this year and after Corsica and Spain we will have the opportunity to talk again, so let's see what is possible then. But I don't know any team manager in this service park who would not want this guy in their team full-time. It's the same for us.

“Mexico has been an extraordinary proof of his performance. We have seen he is still very fast and he has shown just how well he is able to deal with this new car. When he took the lead on the second day, it was in the middle of the fight when everybody was pushing so hard, we didn't expect him to be so fast so quick. We knew he could do nice things, but I thought it would take more time."

Meeke said he hoped Citroën could persuade Loeb to contest more events, having had a positive effect on team morale, adding: “That has been pretty incredible to be honest. We've all been able to feed off the energy he's come in with - me especially. It's been so positive. I've said all along that I want him back in the team and this event just reinforces that. If I had the chance to do a full season with him then I just know I would learn so much. Could you imagine the strength we'd have had if we'd had him all this year and Craig Breen in the third car?

"There's no doubt we'd have been right at the sharp end in the race for the manufacturers' title,” the Ulsterman added. “So why not push that for next year? We could be a very, very strong team if we could convince him to come back and do a bit more."

However, Loeb, who will also contest the FIA World RX Championship with Peugeot this year, was more circumspect about an expanded WRC programme, saying: “At the moment, I am doing rallycross with Peugeot and I cannot do everything. When I retired from the full WRC championship I know the reason why and that has not changed. Now I drive and it's cool, but to do all the championship - it's not the plan."

The Frenchman has no clashes with Rally Germany, in August, but said he would be "on the beach" at that time!

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