It was a weekend of two halves for Team Peugeot Hansen’s Sébastien Loeb at the opening round of the 2018 FIA World Rallycross Championship – eventually ending with the Frenchman on the second step of the podium.
For a while, it looked as though Loeb would fail to make it through to the semi-finals, as qualifying thirteenth meant that he sat one spot outside of getting a place. However, the team made the decision to put the Frenchman into the semi-final instead of Kevin Hansen, who, as an individual driver would not score points for the marque despite racing under the Team Peugeot Total banner.
Loeb validated the switch by making it into the final, and followed this up by finishing the race in third place. He was later promoted to second after Mattias Ekstrom was disqualified for his first lap contact with Petter Solberg.
Although Loeb acknowledged that luck played a part in his impressive result, he was also encouraged by the overall pace of the car, especially as displayed by Timmy Hansen – who had looked in contention for an overall win before he unfortunately was forced to retire from the lead of his semi-final.
“We’ve seen this weekend all the different emotions you can go through in rallycross in one weekend!” commented Loeb.
“I was a bit low at the beginning, and I didn’t expect to go through to the semi-final as we were off with broken rear suspension twice in the heats. Then the decision came that I was going to go through to the semi-final anyway and from that point everything actually went well.
“I had a bit of luck with me, but this sort of emotional rollercoaster isn’t an easy one to live through! The pace of the car with Timmy is very encouraging as we can see that the car is competitive and that we’ve made a step forward over the winter. We’re in the fight and I hope we can continue in this way.”