Sebastien Loeb feels he still has the pace to compete in the WRC despite the five years which have passed since his last full-time campaign in 2012.
Loeb tested Citroen’s C3 on gravel for the first time in Spain last week, his first run on the loose in a new specification World Rally Car.
The nine-time champion declared himself happy with his speed on the gravel, which is set to feature in nine of next year's 13 rallies.
"It was nice to discover this car on gravel," said Loeb. "For me, it’s nearly five years I didn’t drive the World Rally Car on gravel.
"It was a question if I would be able to drive with the WRC on gravel and if I would be able to drive correctly. The feeling was quite good and it came quite quickly. I feel comfortable in the car."
WRX still priority in 2018
While the Frenchman’s pace might be good enough for a WRC return with Citroen, he revealed his priority remains with World Rallycross championship.
Loeb will remain with the Peugeot-Hansen squad for a third season in 2018 if the French manufacturer can turn his 208 RX into a car capable of beating the Volkswagen Polo GTI Supercar – this year’s dominant force in rallycross.
"If we continue the rallycross then we try to make it seriously," Loeb said.
"Volkswagen came this year with a high level because they use their experience and their car from last year; this car was developed with the WRC budget during a few years.
"Now they (PSRX Volkswagen Sweden) don’t need a lot of budget, they take the World Rally Car, adapt it to the rallycross and that’s it.
"The cars we have are good, but maybe not at the level of WRC. If we continue then we try to improve the car.
"We have a few ideas of what we have to do to reach the level of Volkswagen. I don’t know if it will be possible, but we have to try.
"If we do this then, for sure, this would be my main programme [next season] and this is what I’m hoping for at the moment.
"But I don’t have the decision, so I don’t know. If this is the case, why not do a rally or two?"
One of those two rallies could be the season-opening Monte Carlo, even if it comes hard on the heels of Dakar, which Loeb will tackle with Peugeot.
"Sure, the Monte Carlo Rally would be interesting," said Loeb. "It’s one of the rallies where I have the good feeling and I always enjoy it, but it’s complicated with Dakar.
"We finish Dakar on the Saturday and the recce for Monte starts on the Monday.
"Like I said, it’s complicated, it would be really short [preparation time] and not the best way to start. But it is possible. At the moment there’s no plan to do more with Citroen.
"I had opportunities to test on gravel and tarmac and I did this; it’s nice to get some sensations from rallying again and to bring my experience to the team.
"Why not another test? At the moment I am quite busy, but we will talk and decide what to do for the future."
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