Sebastien Loeb’s one-off from retirement is now set to become a two-off.

After retiring from motorsports earlier this year due to an injury to co-driver Daniel Elena, Loeb came back for a one-off in the Spanish World Rally last weekend and has now decided to give the Dakar Rally another shot in January as a Red Bull privateer.

He will pilot a Peugeot 3008DKR with Elena serving as navigator. The car is similar to the one he finished runner-up in during the 2017 Dakar Rally. The team will be run by PH Sport with Loeb seeking the first privateer win since Jean-Louis Schlesser in 2000.

The 41st Dakar Rally in Peru takes place solely in one country for the first time from Jan. 6-17 with around 5,000 kilometres over 10 stages awaiting the world’s best off-roaders, leaving Loeb little time for testing.

The 44-year-old also has Silk Way Rally and Rallye du Maroc experience.

"Throughout my career I’ve always been considered to be a favorite," Loeb said. "While I’m obviously motivated by winning, having fun is important too, so taking part in the 2019 Dakar with Daniel, as private outsiders, is a fantastic challenge. I’m ready to give it a go: a little bit like my three WRC appearances this year, where success was far from being guaranteed."

The Haguenau native will test the PH car privately in December before the rally start in Lima, where he will be up against the likes of familiar foes Stephane Peterhansel, Carlos Sainz, Cyril Despres and Nasser Al-Attiyah.

"I think all these guys will be strong rivals," Loeb said. "I couldn’t go with the wider 3008DKR Maxi from this year due to the latest regulations, so we go with the 2.20m wide car from the year before, maybe with a few small evolutions on the engine similar to this year."

Peruvian sand dunes undid Loeb this year with next year’s edition seeing a whopping 70 percent of the route made up of them, something he is not afraid of.

"I like the dunes, but the key thing will be not to get stuck," he said. "This is what I will work on during my test and there will also be some work for Daniel too, as navigation in the dunes is really tricky. I only made the decision to go to Dakar again at the last minute, but I’m still hungry for the win. We’re probably lacking some preparation compared to the others: equally I didn’t forget everything I learned over the last three years. It’s an adventure that I’m looking forward to experiencing again."

Source: Autoweek

October 31, 2018