Nine-time World Rally champion Sebastien Loeb has announced today that he will take part in the 2016 FIA World RallyCross championship full-time. The French rallying legend has signed with the Peugeot Hansen team and will partner last year’s championship runner-up Timmy Hansen in a Peugeot 208 WRX Supercar.
Loeb joins Peugeot Hansen and makes his full-time return to off-road racing since leaving the World Rally championship as reigning champion in 2012. Since then, Loeb has made some occasional appearances in Rally and RallyCross events whilst competing full-time in the 2013 FIA GT series and then the World Touring Car championship in 2014 and 2015.
Loeb has previously taken part in an FIA World RallyCross event at Loheac in 2013. He reached the semi-finals then, but he is of course aiming higher in his first full-time campaign:
“I’m very excited by this opportunity to participate in the full rallycross championship for the first time,” said Loeb,
“Over the years I have been fortunate to participate in some truly amazing racing, but rallycross – with the sheer power and the competitiveness of the Peugeot 208 WRX, plus the intense nature of the competition – will be something very special.
“The car and the strategy for this type of racing is completely new to me, so I have a lot to learn, but I hope I can be competitive pretty soon.”
Loeb’s previous record in Motorsport is something to be admired. Whilst his fame came from his nine world championships in World Rally, he also won the famous Pikes Peak hill-climb in 2013 after beating the course record by a minute and a half. Additionally, he has won races in the World Touring Car Championship (WTCC) and the FIA GT series, whilst also winning an X-Games RallyCross gold medal in Los Angeles in 2012.
The variety of championships could have even stretched to include Formula One, with Loeb almost making his debut at the 2009 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix for Toro Rosso before being declined a Super License by the FIA.
“Rallycross is one of the hardest disciplines to dominate, with no room for mistakes. Loeb has incredible capacity to adapt and I have no doubt that he will be a strong challenger.” said Peugeot Hansen team-principal Kenneth Hansen, “Last season we proved that we had the potential to perform in the series with Timmy Hansen and Davy Jeanney. By adding Sebastien Loeb to the equation, we will be even stronger.”
This year’s eagerly awaited World RallyCross championship begins with the World RX of Portugal on April 16th and 17th. Loeb will join former World Rally rival Petter Solberg; the reigning two-time RallyCross champion. Another fan favourite. YouTube Gymkhana star Ken Block, will also join Loeb in beginning his first full-time World RX season.
Featured image courtesy of FIA World RallyCross Championship press release: http://www.fiaworldrallycross.com/