Sebastien Loeb’s return to the WRC looks to be scheduled for next year’s Rally Mexico.
The nine-time champion has been linked to a return to the series after he tested a C3 WRC on asphalt and gravel in the summer.
Loeb’s self-stated priority for next season is Peugeot’s World Rallycross programme which, following a hike in budget, is now expected to be run as a factory operation.
In addition, Loeb will also join Peugeot for its final Dakar Rally attempt in January, which will rule him out of a next season’s opening rally in Monte Carlo.
Competing in Monte Carlo would have meant starting the recce in the French Alps the day after he would have returned from Argentina.
Peugeot’s rallycross testing programme is up and running in February, ruling out an appearance in the second WRC round in Sweden.
Citroen team principal Yves Matton told Motorsport.com: “We are in discussions with him [Loeb] for next year.
"The only thing we know – and we decided this together – is that he won’t be in Monte Carlo. It’s too difficult with the Dakar, but it doesn’t mean he will not appear next year – we are in discussions.
"We have to finalise this looking to a global view on what will be our drivers next year.”
Rally Mexico is an event where Loeb enjoys an enviable record, the Frenchman having won the Leon-based rally six times in succession between 2006 and 2012.
Matton said he would be making a driver announcement in the coming weeks.
Loeb hasn’t competed in the WRC since his last Monte Carlo outing in 2015, when he led for much of the first full day before sliding wide and damaging the suspension on his DS3 WRC. He eventually finished eighth.