Sébastien Loeb will test a Citroën C3 WRC ahead of the Rally Deutschland weekend as part of newly formed closer ties between sister PSA brands, forcing team principal Yves Matton to quell suggestions it may be in preparation for a World Rally Championship comeback.
Loeb currently drives for Peugeot in FIA World Rallycross and cross-country events like Dakar and Silk Way, the latter of which he crashed out from the lead only weeks ago. Due to a unification of the two marque’s racing efforts under the PSA Motorsport group, he has been afforded an opportunity to test the new 2017 specification WRC car produced by the team with which he won his nine titles.
“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,” said Loeb. “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 5 years ago, it’s the sensation of rallying that I love most.”
With Citroën currently undergoing a period of adversity both on and off the stages, there is potential to interpret the test as a first warm-up for a WRC comeback at some point in the near future. Matton was quick to dismiss such suggestions, stressing it was a one-off appearance with no plans for any further collaboration between the team and its former linchpin.
“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 elaborated on the objectives behind the test, referring to his extensive experience in the category as a potential aid to the C3’s often troublesome development programme this year.
“It will in the first week in August, before Germany,” Matton confirmed. “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.”