Sebastien Loeb has established his own racing team with the aim of competing at the 24 Hours of Le Mans in the future.
The seven-time World Rally Champion has created Sebastien Loeb Racing together with his friend Dominique Heintz, with the team due to enter the French Porsche Matmut Carrera Cup in 2012. They are also looking to enter the Le Mans Series with a Formula Le Mans Oreca-FLM09.
Loeb's relationship with Heintz began in 1997, when the latter's outfit ran a Peugeot 106 Volant for Loeb.
“With Dominique, we've often spoken about this desire to start a team together,” said Loeb. “A true friendship links us. The story began fifteen years ago: he's the one who began the idea. We promised to each other that we would do it one day, and that day has come.”
“It's the logical continuation of the adventure,” added Heintz. “Sebastien felt ready, he has clarified his future as a driver. It's the right time. After these next two years in rally (2012 and 2013), he'll have the opportunity to get even more involved in the team which will have already gone through its growing pains. It's not an idea that we came up with yesterday. We've been talking about it for a while now we just had to let time do its thing.”
Rallying may be Loeb's first love, but setting up a racing team gives him a chance to get more involved in that side of the sport.
“I've had a few experiences on circuits, in different disciplines, and I liked those experiences as well as the atmosphere around them,” said Loeb. “Rallying represents a large part of my life and it's something I still enjoy, which is why I'm continuing in the sport. But in the coming years, when I'll have more time available, I want to discover a new universe.”
Sebastien Loeb Racing will make its competition debut in the Porsche Matmut Carrera Cup, a series that Loeb himself is racing in this weekend at Paul Ricard. The team will enter two Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars.
“I've driven in this series, and I was seduced,” said Loeb. “Each competitor has the same car, so it's the driver who makes the difference. The Porsche 911 GT3 Cup can be entered in several championships : it's an element that counted for us, as well as its reasonable price.
“We will be running two cars in France, but it's also accepted in Porsche Supercup and even in the Le Mans Series, in the GTC class. Therefore, another program could come online as a compliment. This choice is the fruit of a lot of forethought. It's a solid base.”
Having twice competed in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, Loeb has his sights set on endurance racing.
“Our desire is to acquire the necessary experience to participate in the 24 Hours of Le Mans around 2014 in LMP2,” said Heintz. “Formula Le Mans is a good solution to start in prototype racing. This is why we are working to get the necessary budget.”
“Endurance racing is an attractive discipline,” added Loeb. “The World Endurance Championship will be launched in 2012, with three officially entered constructors. The 24 Hours of Le Mans is a legendary race and we hope to one day be on the grid as a racing team. To accomplish this, we must put together a cohesive project and take it step by step.”
Reiterating his seriousness about the project, Loeb said: “This isn't a one-shot deal. We want to build a serious and professional team, which will be there for the long haul. It's a real challenge, we can't underestimate the size of it. But that's also what's good about it. I'm going to discover new aspects, aspects that will represent my future, and which will allow me to stay in racing and therefore keep living my passion.”
Loeb and Heintz will now assess potential drivers for next season, and could look towards young drivers.
“It's one of our hopes,” said Heintz. “We must not forget that this was the base of our friendship: Sebastien climbed his way to the top thanks to ladder series. Today, we'd like to help young talent work their way up the hierarchy with the same principle. We'll use Sebastien's path as inspiration to reproduce a great career, it's a formidable challenge. That said, sharing his experience with a gentleman driver would be a unique adventure as well.”
The team's definitive plans will be announced during an official presentation before the end of the year.