Sébastien Loeb will make just his second rally start of the year when he starts next month’s Charlemagne Golden Palace Rally, part of the French Cup, in a Volkswagen Polo GTI R5.
The nine-time World Rally champion Loeb has been busy competing in several areas of motorsport over the last few years, but has only contested eight rallies since the start of 2020.
His most recent outing was the Azores Rally this March, which he won in a Škoda Fabia RS Rally2. It was his first ever attempt at the famous island event, and his first rally with his partner Laurène Godey as his co-driver.
She will be calling the notes again in the north of France, where Loeb will drive a VW – the brand that gave his old rival Sébastien Ogier his most success – for the first time. But the roads will be familiar, at least if he can remember them from the last time he competed on the event back in 1997.
It was still a French Cup round 26 years ago, and wide-eyed rallying rookie Loeb drove a Peugeot 106 Rallye to 24th place overall and first in the N1 class. Since Loeb became rallying’s most famous face, the organizers of the all-asphalt event have tried multiple times to attract Loeb back to compete on it again. This year’s edition runs from September 29 – October 1.
Loeb’s program has changed for 2023 as he was supposed to contest the full World Rallycross Championship season, but he lost his Lancia Delta Evo-E RX to a fire at Lydden Hill last month and will miss the rest of the season.
His World Rally-Raid Championship commitments with the Bahrain Raid Xtreme team in a Prodrive Hunter only involves a few weeks of competitive action across the year.