Sebastien Loeb will make rally return this January in Monte Carlo

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Nine-time World Rally Champion Sebastien Loeb ended his full-time rallying career in 2012, but while he has shifted his main focus to the World Touring Car Championship, he hasn’t completely given up the WRC, either.

He made four appearances in that series in 2013 and after staying out of the entire 2014 campaign, Loeb is set to make a return again in January’s 2015 season-opener, the Monte Carlo Rally.

Loeb will be paired with long-time co-driver Daniel Elena in a Citroen DS3 WRC. He will join Kris Meeke and Paul Nagle as points-nominated crews for Citroen, which will compete under the DS banner next year.

“I think Daniel and I would agree that Monte-Carlo is one of our favorite events,” Loeb said in a release on the WRC website. “The beautiful roads, the fact of having to gamble when it comes to tire choice and the party atmosphere that you get on the stages: We can’t wait to experience it all again!

“And of course, it’s an honor to support DS in this new chapter of its history. With the DS 3 WRC – “the little racer” as I nicknamed it when it was first released – I have a lot of good memories; I hope that the 2015 Monte-Carlo will provide yet another. Obviously, it’s going to be a personal challenge for me, as I haven’t competed in a rally for over a year.”

Loeb has won the Monte Carlo Rally seven times, including his most recent trip in 2013. He’ll tune up for his WRC return in a French rally this coming weekend with his wife, Severine, calling notes for him.

In 2014, Loeb finished third in the WTCC standings in a Citroen C-Elysee with two race victories early in the year in Morocco and Slovakia.

Citroen team principal Yves Matton is obviously pleased to have Loeb and Elena’s services for Monte Carlo.

“…When I told [the teams] today that Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena would be driving a DS 3 WRC at Rallye Monte-Carlo, the news was greeted with great enthusiasm,” Matton said in his own thoughts. “With seven wins here, Seb and Daniel are undeniably the event’s greatest specialists, and I’m sure that they will be extremely competitive.”

Toyota No. 8 car wins the 24 Hours of Le Mans for third consecutive year

24 Hours of Le Mans
JEAN-FRANCOIS MONIER/AFP via Getty Images
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LE MANS, France — Toyota Gazoo’s No. 8 car comfortably won the 24 Hours of Le Mans by five laps Sunday to secure a third straight victory in the prestigious endurance race.

It was also a third consecutive win for Swiss driver Sebastien Buemi and Japan’s Kazuki Nakajima driving. Brendon Hartley was the other driver, having replaced two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso.

Buemi and Hartley sat on the side of the car as Nakajima drove toward the podium. Hartley won for a second time after tasting success with the Porsche LMP Team in 2017 before an unhappy season in Formula One.

The Swiss team’s Rebellion No. 1 featured American driver Gustavo Menezes and Brazilian Bruno Senna – the nephew of late F1 great Ayrton Senna.

It finished one lap ahead of Toyota Gazoo’s No. 7, with Rebellion’s No. 3 finishing in fourth place.

For much of the race it looked like Toyota’s No. 7 would win after leading comfortably from pole position. But late into the night the car encountered an engine problem and the 30-minute stop in the stands proved costly.

The race was first held in 1923. A total of 252,500 spectators attended in 2019, but there were none this year when the race started three months late because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“We miss the fans,” New Zealander Hartley said. “I look forward to seeing all the fans again.”

In other divisions:

United Autosports won the LMP2 division with the entry of Filipe Albuquerque, Paul Di Resta and Phil Hanson.

–In LMGTE Pro, the victory was claimed by Aston Martin Vantage AMR of Maxime Martin, Alex Lynn and Harry Tincknell (who drives for Mazda in the DPi division of IMSA).

–TF Sport won the LMGTE Am class.

The Toyota No. 7 took pole after former F1 driver Kamui Kobayashi narrowly edged out the Rebellion No. 1 team in qualifying.

In damp and humid conditions Mike Conway got away cleanly from the start, while Senna held off Buemi.

After nearly seven hours, Toyota’s No. 8 fell back after a 10-minute stop in the stands to fix a brake-cooling problem on Kazuki Nakajima’s car. Rebellion’s No. 1, driven by Frenchman Norman Nato, took advantage to move into second place behind Toyota’s No. 7.

Then came the decisive moment at 2:40 a.m. as the No. 7 – also featuring Argentine Jose Maria Lopez – encountered a turbo problem. When the car came back out it was back in fourth.

“We had a few problems early in the race,” Nakajima said. “Later they had a bigger issue than us.”

Rebellion’s No. 1 encountered a problem on the hood at around 9 a.m. and the change took six minutes, allowing the Rebellion No. 3 (Nathanael Berthon-Louis Deletraz-Romain Dumas) to close the gap.

It was becoming a tight battle between the two Rebellion cars behind Toyota’s No. 8.

At 12 p.m. Rebellion No. 3 with Dumas behind the wheel was only one second ahead of No. 1 driven by Menezes. Then both cars came in for a driver change with Deletraz swapping for Dumas on a lengthy stop, and Nato for Menezes as Rebellion No. 1 suddenly moved ahead of its team rival.

Dumas, a winner in 2016 with Porsche, appeared unhappy at the strategy decision to bring his car in first and the length of the stop. There were tense explanations in the team garage.

Colombian Tatiana Calderon, an F1 test driver with Alfa Romeo, was in the Richard Mille Racing Team in the LMP2 category. She was joined by German Sophia Florsch – an F3 driver – and Dutchwoman Beitske Visser. They placed ninth out of 24 in their category.