Yes, insanely dominant World Rally Championship driver Sebastien Loeb and his co-driver Daniel Elena are back in a rally car for Rallye Monte Carlo. No, they won't pwn all the n00bs in WRC, at least not for the entire season. It's a one-off drive. Here's why we love it anyway.
First off, the one-off thing is special, cool and deserves some respect. Citroën's doing something nuts here.
One-offs at Rallye Monte Carlo can be the ultimate spoiler. Last year, Bryan Bouffier took second place in a privateer Ford Fiesta RS WRC at the event. Sebastien Loeb should be even more likely to ruin the full-season drivers' fun. Loeb-bot doesn't care. Loeb-bot must win. All move out of the way for the Loeb-bot, or be crushed by Loeb-bot's cold, petite, uncaring hands.
When Citroën announced that Loeb would be driving a Citroën DS3 WRC, however, fans immediately took to the internets to announce that he's back, as if he were back for a whole season's drive. Whoa, there, buddy. Hold up. He's just back for this one race.
But what if, as Arch Duke Maxyenko tossed out to Oppo, this drive gets Loeb to reconsider his retirement? That'd be cool, I guess, but I also see it as rather unlikely.
Kris Meeke has the drive for Citroën in the WRC next year, and although he's fallen short of the utter domination that Loeb was known for, it should be interesting to see how they both perform in the same car. Maybe this will serve as a much-needed kick in the pants for Meeke and the crew.
That being said, Loeb has a lot invested in the World Touring Car Championship with Citroën right now. Loeb's undying quest to win at everything has moved on to touring cars and most recently, WTCC team ownership in addition to his Citroën works drive.
I think Meeke's ride is safe for now, at least. It isn't if Meeke keeps falling short of the win, but to posit that Loeb would take over the spot by default is still a bit of a stretch.
"Been there, completely annihilated the competition in that" seems to be Loeb's mantra.
Loeb's excited about this one-off opportunity, and you should be, too. In comments made to the WRC:
I have to say I didn't hesitate for a second when I was offered the chance to compete.
I think Daniel and I would agree that Monte-Carlo is one of our favourite events. The beautiful roads, the fact of having to gamble when it comes to tyre choice and the party atmosphere that you get on the stages: we can't wait to experience it all again!
And of course, it's an honour to support DS in this new chapter of its history. With the DS 3 WRC – "the little racer" as I nicknamed it when it was first released – I have a lot of good memories; I hope that the 2015 Monte-Carlo will provide yet another. Obviously, it's going to be a personal challenge for me, as I haven't competed in a rally for over a year.
Loeb has seven wins here, and Citroën could use some help showing that the DS3 isn't a dud. It's a win-win situation for both. But clearly, WTCC remains his first priority this season.
"We have also managed to find a few slots in my schedule so I can take part in testing," said Loeb to the WRC of his upcoming plans to run a DS3 in the French Rallye du Var to prepare for Rallye Monte Carlo. "I'm absolutely delighted about this opportunity to meet up with the big rallying family during the FIA WTCC off-season!"
Keep an eye on Rallye Monte Carlo next January anyway. It'll be an interesting one.
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