Loeb: Exciting to show I still have the speed

Nine-time world champion enjoyed proving to himself, not just others, that he is still competitive in Turkey

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It wasn’t just fans and pundits who were excited to see Sébastien Loeb back at the front of the World Rally Championship on Rally Turkey, as the man himself described his top three pace as “exciting” and a “lot of fun”.

The nine-time world champion led the rally on Friday night, then ended Saturday with his first stage win of 2020. His final finishing position of third was a world away from the sixth place he started the year with on Rally Monte Carlo, especially as he hadn’t been in a rally since that January event.

Loeb looked incredibly motivated in Turkey, and he admitted that he was satisfied with his performance that proved that he can still cut it in the WRC.

“For sure it’s a lot of fun, it’s not only to show to the other [people] it’s to prove to myself, that’s also exciting,” Loeb told DirtFish.

“Yes for sure it’s always a great moment, sometime it was complicated on some rallies but it seems like on gravel I have a good feeling with the car and I enjoy a lot driving with this car, it’s just amazing how fast it is now, these World Rally Cars, so I really enjoy and have a lot of fun in the car.”

Loeb finished in the top three on merit – surviving a puncture scare on Sunday’s opener despite insisting he was taking no risks – and contributed to Hyundai’s manufacturer’s championship points haul as the second of its cars behind second-placed Thierry Neuville.

“I think we made our best [effort], we made a good rally, I was happy to be in the pace,” Loeb added. “That’s always the question when I arrive somewhere, especially here I didn’t know the rally at all. So that was complicated, and the conditions were extreme, especially this morning the first stage.

“I heard [Kalle] Rovanperä stop, [Séb] Ogier stop, [Esapekka] Lappi stop, everybody stopped and we were in full dust so I say ‘OK, I don’t take risk, I stay in the middle of the road, try to finish the stage’.. and finally a puncture, I don’t know from where.

“That was really disappointing at that moment but at the end the others had the same trouble as me and we are still in a battle until the end so we finish on the podium, that’s a great result. I bring some important points to the team, that was the goal and it’s my objective, so we finish well this rally and I’m really happy and proud for the result.”

But the big question is will we see Loeb doing the same again in 2020 (which he is currently not scheduled to) or beyond?

“The plan is not precise for the moment for the end of the season and next year I don’t know,” he said. “I don’t have any idea at the moment so we will see.”