Two decades ago, when Sébastien Loeb and Citroën’s World Rally Championship story was just about to sky-rocket, the idea of Loeb wanting to drive a Škoda Fabia would have been laughable.
But it’s no longer 2003. It’s 2023, and Škoda’s Fabia RS Rally2 was Loeb’s chariot of choice for this weekend’s Azores Rally.
It’s not hard to see why. Plainly, it’s the car to have right now in the Rally2 class.
Although it didn’t win the Monte Carlo Rally, the Fabia has been the fastest car on all three World Rally Championship events this season. And with no ties to any manufacturer and therefore free reign to pick his preferred car for the Azores, Loeb has spotted this potential and gone for the Škoda.
Serkan Duru’s Toksport team will run the nine-time WRC world champion.
“I can say it’s an honor, a big chance for Toksport’s history and it’s preferred by him [Loeb], that’s so nice,” Duru told DirtFish.
“Also he preferred the Škoda, so I believe it will be a nice experience. It will be a good tick on the to-do list!”
You can say that again, Serkan. Toksport has welcomed plenty of great drivers into its cars including former WRC event winner Andreas Mikkelsen and rising star Oliver Solberg, but bringing in Loeb is an entirely different kettle of fish.
The deal was struck one month ago, but it’s only today [Tuesday] where Toksport and Loeb get their first real chance to work together.
“We started to contact about the technical things, how does he prefer,” Duru explained prior to the event. “But we loaded up the boat to the island on Thursday, so we will arrive on Monday and we will test on Tuesday.
“It’s nice. We try to give him the best service and I believe we will have a nice weekend and enjoy.”
Plenty has changed since Loeb drove a Xsara in the WRC in 2003 [pictured above], but the prospect of seeing the #1 door plates and Loeb on the side window of a Škoda will be as weird as it is exciting.