In only his second season in the championship, rally legend Sebastien Loeb is already taking the fight to the touring car specialists in the WTCC.
Although he lags behind reigning champion Jose Maria Lopez in the standings, the nine-time WRC champion remains ahead of his other Citroen teammate – quadruple WTCC champion Yvan Muller.
Last weekend, when Loeb finished second and fifth in the two races around the mighty Nordschleife, Motorsport.com had the chance to chat with the Frenchman about his fledgling touring car career.
Given your good start to the season, do you feel like you have reached the next level in terms of your performances in the WTCC?
“At the moment, it's pretty good – I'm quite competitive. It's true that Lopez is very hard to beat, but the other drivers are in the same boat as I am.
“Concerning my rhythm, compared to the other guys, it's not bad for a rally driver! I also gained some experience racing in packs, and all that sort of stuff.
“Obviously Lopez is hard to catch; he has got a good feeling and everything is going well for him. It's hard to pinpoint one thing, but he's capable of putting everything together for perfect laps.”
Did you think you would reach this level of performance when you made your WTCC debut last year?
“I did not know where I would end up. First of all, we didn't know that Lopez would be in front of everybody, as we didn't really know him!
“For myself, battling with a four-time champion like Yvan, it's a dream. I'm in the hunt, it's pretty good. No-one really expected Lopez to be up there, but he’s shown he's a great driver.”
If I understand I will never be really competitive, maybe I would like to try something else. But that's not the case for the moment.
Does the rest of your career depend on the results you achieve in WTCC? Could not winning the title make you check out some other series?
“Honestly, I don't know. Check something else, it depends what for. Today, I don't want to stay at home doing nothing, I want to compete. Stopping WTCC, it depends what replaces it, I need to find something interesting.
“For the moment I like it; it's how I expected it to be. I'm trying it, but if at one stage I understand I will never be really competitive, maybe I would like to try something else. But that's not the case for the moment.”
There is a lot of talk about a possible Dakar Rally appearance. Could this be compatible with a WTCC season, or will you need to choose between the two?
“Doing both is not impossible. It will depend on the time we need to prepare for a participation in the Dakar.”