Sebastien Loeb admitted Peugeot is likely to walk away from its off-road programme in 2018, making next year's Dakar the Frenchman's last chance to win.
The French manufacturer had become embroiled in a row about the regulations for Dakar, with the series officials ready to handicap the rear-wheel drive, buggy-style car of Peugeot.
But the likely departure of the Parisian squad has more to do with the programme reaching its natural conclusion with Stephane Peterhansel triumphing in the last two Dakars.
Loeb began his Dakar adventure last season, leading in both the 2016 and 2017 editions of the event before a crash last year and mechanical trouble this season ruled him out.
Loeb and co-driver Daniel Elena tested the 3008 DKR in Morocco last week and will start the six-day Rally of Morocco on Wednesday.
Loeb said his third attempt at winning Dakar in 2018 will be important as it could be his last chance to take the crown.
"It will be important [to win Dakar next season] because I think it’s the last one, maybe Peugeot will continue, but I don’t think so," Loeb told Motorsport.com.
"We start to have a bit more experience now and it would be great to be able to win.
"But it’s so difficult to know what to expect in a rally like Dakar when it’s so long.
"OK, we know we have the speed, but in Dakar it’s not only the speed, you can lose a lot in the navigation or with problems – like we had last year.
"We have everything to be able to win now, but it’s not easy to do it."
Experience of off-road running remains Loeb’s only concern for next year’s Dakar, which starts in Lima, Peru on January 6th and finishes in Cordoba, Argentina a fortnight later.
"We will prepare as well as possible, we start with more experience for me on the driving and Daniel on the co-driving and the car starts to be strong, it won already last year.
"I know in the driving rhythm I am quite good and usually faster than my teammates, then we lose a little time in the navigation.
"Daniel did a good job last year but Peterhansel’s co-driver [Jean Paul Cottret] has a lot more experience and he did nearly no mistakes last year.
"I hope we will have enough experience to do it. What happens in this rally is that every time you make a mistake on this event you realise you don’t have this experience before, but now you have it!
"Some drivers have been doing this for 10 years, of course, we still have things to learn. Last year it was possible to win, so I think it will be next year as well."
Loeb potentially losing his cross-country rallying programme and only returning to World Rallycross if Peugeot upgrades its current car could potentially pave the way for his rumoured WRC return.
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