Sebastien Loeb happy to support Thierry Neuville's 2019 WRC title bid
Former World Rally Championship champion Sebastien Loeb says he is quite happy to play a support role in Hyundai and Thierry Neuville's bid for WRC glory next season.
Loeb’s move to the Korean team had prompted questions about how the world’s most successful rally driver would cope with team orders. But Loeb, who has signed up for a six-round stint including Monte Carlo, Sweden and Corsica, said he is there to help the team achieve its goals.
"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," he said. "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 is clear and I'm fine with it.
"I stopped rally competition for more than five years. I don't now have the rhythm of the current drivers or their knowledge of the events in general. It’s awesome that a manufacturer like Hyundai gives 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."
However, despite that new strategy, the Frenchman insisted he'll be pushing as hard as ever on his first WRC round as a professional driver in something other than a Citroën.
"Once I have my helmet on, I'll give it my best to get the best result possible, as I always did," added Loeb. "But the approach will be different. Also, the Monte Carlo will be very particular. We will only be able to get one test day… the day before the recce."
He admitted that the three rallies with Citroën last year – including his 79th WRC victory in Spain - convinced him to do more in 2019. He also confessed that, until Peugeot pulled out of Rallycross, he hadn't thought about his future.
"Two months ago before the announcement of Peugeot Sport's departure, I had absolutely never asked myself any questions about the future,” Loeb added. "On my side, I had absolutely no desire to stop driving on top level. I liked Hyundai's proposal, with six rallies as a number two or three, and we talked."