Meeke: Monte master Loeb will put up a challenge
"He’s not nine-times world champion for nothing!"
Kris Meeke believes that his surprise Rallye Monte Carlo team-mate Sebastien Loeb will be capable of challenging for victory in January despite a 14 month break from the WRC.
Loeb will make a one-off comeback in a works DS3 World Rally Car at next season’s opener, before he resumes his World Touring Car Championship duties with Citroen.
Monte Carlo will be Loeb’s first WRC appearance since Rallye de France Alsace in 2013, but Meeke expects the Frenchman will quickly get back up to speed.
“He’s not nine-times world champion for nothing!” Meeke told wrc.com. “Seb is one of the best drivers the world has seen in any form of motorsport and his WTCC season means he’s not out of driving practice. Okay rallying is different, as he knows himself, but he’s doing a rally this weekend so he can get back into the swing of things and he’ll have a test before Monte. I’m pretty sure he’ll hit the ground running.”
Meeke believes Loeb’s familiarity with the unique challenge of Rallye Monte Carlo will make him even more of a threat. “This isn’t a rally where out and out speed is such a big factor as, say, Finland or other events where you can predict the conditions,” he explained.
“Instead, Monte is more about feeling and mastering the icy, tricky conditions. Seb is one of the masters of this rally, he’s won it seven times, so I think he can definitely put up a challenge.”
And Meeke doesn’t expect Loeb to be lacking motivation: “I know Seb has a new challenge in Touring Cars, but as much as he’s enjoying that, I think rallying will always be his first sport. I think he’s itching to get back!”
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