French rally ace Sébastien Loeb, now competing in the FIA World Rallycross Championship with Team Peugeot-Hansen, can call himself more than happy to have finished third overall at this weekend’s round six of the series at the Lankebanen in Hell, Norway, scoring his second podium finish since last April’s round two in Portugal.
Despite the fact that both Loeb’s and his team-mate, Timmy Hansen‘s cars had been fitted with older-specification engines as a precautionary measure, the Frenchman used the best of his skills to negotiate with the heavy rain that fell on Saturday; while weather conditions improved on Sunday, his commitment once again paid off, as he closed the qualifying phase in fifth place overall.
Even though he started from the second row of the grid, Loeb performed brilliantly in his semi-final, finishing second. In the all-important final, the Alsatian took advantage of his blinding start to get past reigning World Champion, Mattias Ekström, whom he cleverly held off throughout the six-lap race, to claim third place overall, behind race winner and current standings leader, Johan Kristoffersson, and local star Andreas Bakkerud.
“I’m really happy to once more get the opportunity to crack open a champagne bottle after a good fight!” rejoiced Loeb.
“Recently, I had to face near misses instead of podiums. Once again, I gave everything, each confrontation was truly tough, so I’m particularly pleased to have been able to stand up to Mattias Ekström in the final. He’s a tough customer!
This third place is a beautiful reward for all the effort the team has put in, to give me the best possible 208 WRX. Our opponents, especially Volkswagen, set an infernal pace, so we’re aware that we need to keep working to raise our game even higher.
We’ve identified working points and we’ll stick to them during another testing session planned before the next race.”
The next appointment for WorldRX crews and fans is the seventh round of the series at Höljes, Sweden, 30 June-2 July: on the Hansen family’s home soil, Loeb finished second last year, once again behind Bakkerud.