Sebastien Loeb vows to support Thierry Neuville’s Hyundai WRC title bid

Sebastien Loeb says he “happily” signed up to support Hyundai and Thierry Neuville in their bid for World Rally Championship glory next season.

Since Loeb’s move to the Korean manufacturer was confirmed earlier this month, there have been questions about how the world’s most successful rally driver would react to team orders.

Loeb, who will tackle a six-round programme starting with Monte Carlo, Sweden and Corsica, has admitted he’s there to help.

Loeb said: “Since a very long time, I am in the shoes of a number one or, at least, I fight in order to go and get the victory.

“Even when I discovered Dakar or rallycross, the target was to be ahead.

“This time, with Hyundai, my first mission will be to help them clinch the constructors’ championship and back up Thierry Neuville, the number one driver.

“The team’s speech is clear and I’m fine with it.

“I stopped rally competition for more than five years. I don’t have any more the rhythm of the current drivers, or their knowledge of the rallies in general.

“It is already awesome that a manufacturer like Hyundai gives me their trust despite these parameters and I accept happily this number two number three position and to race with less pressure, for fun, and with the target to bring them back points when I start a rally.”

Despite that shift in strategy, Loeb insists he’ll be pushing as hard as ever when he starts his first WRC round as a professional driver in something other than a Citroen next month.

Loeb said: “Once I have my helmet on, I’ll give it my best to get the best result possible, as I always did. But the approach will be different.

“Also, the Monte Carlo will be very particular. In addition of driving with a new constructor for the first time ever in my WRC career, discovering a new team, new people and a new path, we will only be able to get one test day to discover the car – the day before recce time.

“That’s not ideal to tackle the hardest rally of the season. I hope you’ll indulge me!”

Loeb admitted his three rallies with Citroen this year – a programme which concluded with a 79th WRC win in Spain – convinced him of more WRC outings in 2019.

He also confessed that, prior to Peugeot’s withdrawal from World Rallycross, he hadn’t thought about his future.

“Two months ago before the announcement of Peugeot Sport’s departure, I had absolutely never asked myself any questions about the future,” he said.

“After Spain and our win with Citroen, I still didn’t know what I was going to do but I couldn’t imagine this would be our last race together.

“On my side, I had absolutely no desire to stop driving on top level. I had to think fast to bounce back.

“I liked Hyundai’s proposal, with six rallies as a number two or three driver, and we went forward with the talks.”

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