Sébastien Loeb, the 7-time World Rally champion, and his friend Dominique Heintz are partnering to create the circuit racing team Sébastien Loeb Racing. On the schedule, the Porsche Matmut Carrera Cup in 2012 with Endurance in their sights…
The story of Sébastien Loeb and Dominique Heintz started in 1997, in rallying. Nearly fifteen years later, the adventure continues with the launch of Sébastien Loeb Racing, a team born out of friendship and a mutual passion for racing will make it’s debut in 2012. As first steps, the team will run in the Porsche Matmut Carrera Cup, with two Porsche 911 GT3 Cups entered in the premiere single-make cup series. In parallel, Sébastien Loeb Racing is looking to enter a Formula Le Mans (ORECA-FLM09) in the Le Mans Series with the goal of one day racing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
With seven World Rally championships in WRC under his belt, and fighting for an eighth crown in the Rally of Great Britain in a few days (November 10-13), Sébastien Loeb is ready to take on the new challenge. « With Dominique, we’ve often spoken about this desire to start a team together, » recalls the Alsacian driver. « A true friendship links us. The story began fifteen years ago : he’s the one who began the idea. We promised to each other that we would do it one day, and that day has come ! » In 1997, Dominique Heintz had begun « Ambition Sport Auto », who was running a Volant 106 for Sébastien Loeb. That year, he was named « Best newcomer Echappement of the year».
« It’s the logical continuation of the adventure,» adds Dominique Heintz, co-found of Sébastien Loeb Racing. « Sébastien felt ready : he has clarified his future as a driver. It’s the right time : after these next two years in Rally (2012 and 2013), he’ll have the opportunity to get even more involved in the team which will have already gone through its growing pains. It’s not an idea that we came up with yesterday. We’ve been talking about it for a while now : we just had to let time do its thing.»
The Porsche Matmut Carrera Cup to start…
After shining on the Rally circuit for so many years, Sébastien Loeb has opted for a different kind of circuit. He explains his reasons for the choice : « I’ve had a few experiences on circuits, in different disciplines, and I liked those experiences as well as the atmosphere around them. Rallying represents a large part of my life and it’s something I still enjoy, which is why I’m continuing in the sport. But in the coming years, when I’ll have more time available, I want to discover a new universe. »
Sébastien Loeb Racing will be making its first foray into racing in the Porsche Matmut Carrera Cup. « I’ve driven in this series, and I was seduced, » confides Sébastien Loeb. « Each competitor has the same car, so it’s the driver who makes the difference. The Porsche 911 GT3 Cup can be entered in several championships : it’s an element that counted for us, as well as its reasonable price. We will be running two cars in France, but it’s also accepted in Porsche Supercup and even in the Le Mans Series, in the GTC class. Therefore, another program could come online as a compliment : this choice is the fruit of a lot of forethought. It’s a solid base. » In addition, the Porsche Matmut Carrera Cup corresponds perfectly to the philosophy of the team : the combination of young driving talent eager to prove themselves and gentleman drivers.
Sébastien Loeb and Dominique Heintz are also looking into possibly entering Sébastien Loeb Racing into the Peugeot RCZ Cup, a new single-make cup series with appeal : « It’s a driver evolution tool with an interesting concept. The series is aimed at all types of drivers, from young movers and shakers to gentlemen drivers who want to satisfy their passion, with a very good cost to performance ratio. This fits into our expectations so logically we are looking into this avenue. »
… the 24 Hours of Le Mans is the medium-term goal !
Alongside his Rally engagements, Sébastien Loeb has twice driven in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, including a podium finish (2nd in 2006). Sébastien Loeb Racing has made this form of racing an objective, as Dominique Heintz confirms : « Our desire is to acquire the necessary experience to participate in the 24 Hours of Le Mans around 2014 in LMP2. Formula Le Mans is a good solution to start in prototype racing. This is why we are working to get the necessary budget. »
« Endurance racing is an attractive discipline, » adds Sébastien Loeb. « The World Endurance Championship will be launched in 2012, with three officially entered constructors. The 24 Hours of Le Mans is a legendary race and we hope to one day be on the grid as a racing team. To accomplish this, we must put together a cohesive project and take it step by step.
With such an ambition, Sébastien Loeb Racing’s presence on circuits will be taking place over several years. « This isn’t a one-shot deal » underscore the driver, now team boss. « We want to build a serious and professional team, which will be there for the long haul. It’s a real challenge : we can’t underestimate the size of it. But that’s also what’s good about it ! I’m going to discover new aspects, aspects that will represent my future, and which will allow me to stay in racing and therefore keep living my passion. »
Sébastien Loeb and Dominique Heintz will now take up the task of deciding on potential drivers for the coming season. The two friends could aim for youth. « It’s one of our hopes, » notes Dominique Heintz. « We must not forget that this was the base of our friendship : Sébastien climbed his way to the top thanks to ladder series. Today, we’d like to help young talent work their way up the hierarchy with the same principle. We’ll use Sébastien’s path as inspiration to reproduce a great career, it’s a formidable challenge ! That said, sharing his experience with a gentleman driver would be a unique adventure as well … »
Details of Sébastien Loeb Racing and of the definitive plans will be announced during an official presentation before the end of the year….