Sébastien Loeb wants to enter further events of the World Rally Championship beyond this week’s Monte Carlo Rally, but isn’t sure where or when that might be.
Loeb signed for M-Sport as part of a deal that brought Red Bull backing to the team that already had Adrien Fourmaux, a Red Bull-backed driver, in its line-up.
Alongside new co-driver Isabella Galmiche, Loeb will drive a Ford Puma Rally1 Hybrid on the Monte but currently has no deal for beyond the opening round of the season.
But asked by DirtFish on Wednesday ahead of the event if he is keen to do more, Loeb admitted the initial plan was for a multi-rally program but negotiations with Red Bull had been “a bit complicated”.
“Honestly at the base the plan was to do more rallies, but finally we decided the negotiation was a bit complicated, not especially about me but sponsors and things like this so we decided first to go for one rally and for the rest we will speak later,” he said.
“So I have no idea if we will do some more or not.”
Pushed on if there were any rallies later in the season that he would particularly like to do, Loeb – who is expected to retain his Extreme E drive with Team X44 and currently competes for Bahrain Raid Xtreme in cross-country rallying – said it would depend on his schedule.
“I have Extreme E to do and [World Rally-Raid] Championship probably, so for the rest I don’t know, I don’t know how many rallies we will be able to do or not.
“Any preference? Not really, it will be more a question of calendar than preference of rallies.”
Loeb is eligible for manufacturer points this weekend, alongside Fourmaux and Craig Breen, instead of M-Sport’s other full-time driver Gus Greensmith – who joked his team-mates have “the s*** job this weekend, I’ve got absolutely nothing to lose I can just enjoy myself and drive a fast, hybrid car”.
Loeb is never going to become a full-time option for M-Sport but team principal Richard Millener is aware of the benefits the nine-time world champion brings and so is equally keen to get him back in the car later in the season.
Those discussions will be reserved for a few weeks though.
“I think there’s no real discussion at the moment to be looking at Sweden, so then it would give us additional time and a nice gap between here and Croatia [in April] to see what’s possible,” Millener said.
“But I think everything will ultimately come down to how well things go this weekend because we’ve been focusing purely on getting this weekend sorted, it’s just taking up everybody’s time.
“We haven’t been looking too far ahead of next week at the moment and next week’s reserved as a recovery for us all, so let’s see how we go this week, see how we get on and enjoy it.
“We’d love to see him more in the car, but as you say there’s a lot of stuff to come together to get that sorted.
“But we worked very hard to get to the position we’re in now so there’s absolutely no reason why we wouldn’t continue to do the same and see what else we can manage for this year.”
Loeb could not enter the Acropolis Rally as it clashes with the penultimate round of Extreme E and both Rally Croatia and Italy end just days before a round of the new World Rally-Raid Championship, but theoretically the remaining WRC rounds all remain an option.