Motor Sport News - - Rally News -

Nine-time World Rally cham­pion Se­bastien Loeb has backed Bri­tain’s Kris Meeke to re­turn Citroen to the top of the World Rally Cham­pi­onship.

Loeb, who is now con­test­ing his first Dakar Rally as part of Peu­geot’s four-car South Amer­i­can as­sault, ad­mit­ted to Mo­tor­sport News (De­cem­ber 30) that he was keen to help Citroen de­velop its new 2017 World Rally Car be­fore he was shown the door from the team he’d helped to 17 world ti­tles in a decade. In his ab­sence, he said Meeke was the best choice.

Loeb told MN: “[Se­bastien] Ogier is the strong­est driver, but I don’t know what is his level to de­velop a car – but for sure he is con­tracted to Volk­swa­gen, so you don’t speak about Ogier. It’s a bit the same with Lat­vala.

“I think it’s a good choice [to take Meeke]. He is very clever be­cause he’s an en­gi­neer as well as a driver. Kris un­der­stands well how the car is work­ing, so to de­velop a new car they need him. And to de­velop the car, I imag­ine Meeke could be bet­ter than a few of th­ese guys. And apart from Kris, to­day, then I don’t see who else.”

Citroen’s 2017 C3 WRC is ex­pected to break cover in March, but the sig­nif­i­cant test­ing for Meeke will take place through the sum­mer. Prior to that, he will con­test se­lected rounds of the world cham­pi­onship in a DS 3 WRC, start­ing with the Monte Carlo Rally later this month.

Meeke ad­mit­ted he was flat­tered by Loeb’s words. “We all know what Se­bastien Loeb has achieved in this sport and, in all hon­esty, the records he has set are un­likely to ever be bro­ken. To have the back­ing of a guy like that is good, it’s great, but at the same time I still have to get in there and get the job done. Se­bastien Loeb and Citroen set the bar very high when they were at the top of their games and it’s that level that we’re aim­ing to get back to.”

Meeke has proven his pace in WRC

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