NO PLANS FOR LOEB RETURN AFTER CITROEN TEST

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NO PLANS FOR LOEB RETURN AFTER CITROEN TEST

CITROËN Racing boss Yves Matton says there are no plans for Sebastien Loeb to make a competitive return to the WRC after he tests the squad’s C3 World Rally Car next month.

It was announced yesterday that nine-time world champion Loeb, 43, would test the car for one day on asphalt as part of a co-operation between PSA Group brands Peugeot and Citroën.

But on Wednesday night, on the eve of Neste Rally Finland, Matton denied Loeb’s test might lead to a comeback to the manufacturer with whom he scored 78 rally wins and nine world titles.

“There are no plans for him to be able to drive the car in competition,” Matton told wrc.com.

“For the moment it is out of curiosity. He’s interested to drive all sorts of motorsport vehicles. It’s in our common interest to do something.

“He was keen to drive the new C3 and for us it is also interesting to have one more [driver’s] feedback on the car.”

Matton also revealed more about the test, which will come before the championship’s next round, ADAC Rallye Deutschland on 17-20 August.

“It will in the first week in August, before Germany. The idea, if we were to do an asphalt test with him, was to try and do it before Germany.

“With his level of experience he can maybe confirm or give us some new ideas. Maybe he can find something that would be interesting,” Matton said.

It said the alliance between the sibling brands would enable Loeb to get back behind the wheel of a WRC car and continue his current programmes with Peugeot.

PSA said it was was “an opportunity for Citroën Racing to get valuable technical feedback on the C3 WRC from the great champion”.

Loeb said: “At the same time as competing in cross-country and the World Rallycross Championship with Peugeot, I can bring my experience to Citroën by testing the C3.

“I can’t wait to get back into a WRC and test how the technology has changed in that discipline. I’m still passionate about rallying. Of all the disciplines I’ve tried since I retired five years ago, it’s the sensation of rallying that I love most.”

Introduced at the start of the year, and built to the new World Rally Car specifications, the C3 has failed to match the success of previous Citroën WRC models like the Xsara, C4 and DS 3.

Despite taking a year out of WRC competition in 2016 to prepare for its comeback, Citroën has claimed just one win from the eight rounds so far this season and is ranked last in the FIA manufacturers’ standings.

Kris Meeke scored Citroën’s only win in Mexico but he was dropped for this month’s Polish encounter after a series of crashes. The team drafted in Andreas Mikkelsen to replace him but Meeke returns for this week’s Neste Rally Finland.

Earlier this month, team boss Yves Matton acknowledged that “directions taken during development of the C3 WRC were not fit for purpose” and that staff working for new technical director Christophe Besse were working on “upgrades that would provide the car with greater versatility”.