Sebastien Loeb showed at Mettet this weekend that he can be a force to be reckoned with in the 2016 FIA World Rallycross Championship as he scored his first overall podium finish at the 2016 World RX of Belgium.
Loeb came out of the starting block well as he took his Peugoet 208 WRX to the fastest time in Q1, the first time in his debut season that he has taken overall qualifying spoils. He dropped down to seventh place in Q2, however the Frenchman fought back to go third fastest in Q3 and then improved further to go second fastest in Q4 behind his old WRC rival Petter Solberg. All throughout the weekend Loeb seemed to be more settled in the Peugeot and despite several instances of contact with the tyre stacks, it seems that he is starting to find his feet in World RX.
The former WTCC driver qualified for semi-final 1 and stayed with eventual race winner Mattias Ekstrom in his EKSRX Audi S1. Second place for Loeb gave him a spot on the middle row for the Supercar Final, however after the racing sorted itself and with Anton Marklund spinning out on lap two, the Frenchman calmly stayed within striking distance with Ekstrom who would go on to win the event with Loeb securing his first overall podium.
Loeb was very happy with his performance this weekend and is now looking forward to racing at Lydden Hill at the end of this month, “It was a pretty good weekend for me. It’s nice to have scored my first podium finish in rallycross and the main thing is that I was competitive throughout the event. I felt comfortable in free practice in this car at this track.
“I’m beginning to find my marks and I was helped by a positive draw,” said Loeb. “My starts were good and I succeeded in making the most of them, although it will still need some work before I can start chasing Ekström. He’s been fast everywhere so far. At least we were in the fight here in Belgium. We now need to produce a similar performance at Lydden Hill.”
After his positive start to the season so far, Loeb now sits in fourth place in the Drivers Championship, 24 points away from leader Ekstrom and 4 points shy of Johan Kristoffersson. One thing is clear at this early stage however: Loeb looked calm and concise in the Peugeot this weekend. Should he keep up this form, the Team Peugeot-Hansen driver could very soon turn into a championship contender and a threat to Ekstrom’s title hopes.