LOEBANDPEUGEOT COMMITTOWRXFUTURE

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Motor Sport News - - Sporting Scene - By Hal Ridge Photos: FIA World Ral­lycross

Nine-time World Rally cham­pion Se­bastien Loeb will race in the World Ral­lycross Cham­pi­onship for a third sea­son next year af­ter Peu­geot an­nounced that it will con­tinue with its pro­gramme in the series.

The an­nounce­ment puts an end to doubt over Peu­geot’s ral­lycross fu­ture be­yond the con­clu­sion of 2017. Al­though no time­frame has been an­nounced, ref­er­ences to elec­tric ral­lycross in a state­ment sug­gest that Peu­geot sees a longterm fu­ture in the sport.

World RX pro­mo­tor IMG re­vealed re­cently that the ad­di­tion of an elec­tric cat­e­gory in the World RX struc­ture wouldn’t hap­pen un­til 2020 at the ear­li­est. Peu­geot stated that World RX’S “global am­bi­tions” tie in with its busi­ness growth plan out­side Europe and that “the brand is ready to sup­port the evo­lu­tions in E-WRX as part of its tech­no­log­i­cal plan, which aims to of­fer 80 per cent of the mod­els in elec­tri­fied ver­sion by 2023”.

Peu­geot brand chief ex­ec­u­tive, Jean-philippe Im­parato said: “The brand wants to be in­volved in a new chal­lenge with the idea of ac­com­pa­ny­ing its own en­ergy tran­si­tion but also to cre­ate a strong and unique link with new cus­tomers and the new gen­er­a­tion. The E-WRX is the per­fect fit for this strat­egy.

“The goal of the 2018 sea­son will be to win the ti­tle. To this end, we are strength­en­ing the de­vel­op­ments ini­ti­ated by Peu­geot Sport and study­ing the sports man­age­ment sys­tem im­ple­mented by the Hansen fam­ily since 2014.”

It is not known if the re­la­tion­ship with Ken­neth Hansen’s squad, which has part­nered Peu­geot Sport since it en­tered World RX in 2014 and won the Teams’ Cham­pi­onship in 2015, will con­tinue into next sea­son, or if cur­rent Team Peu­geot-hansen driv­ers Timmy Hansen and Kevin Hansen will be re­tained.

“It’s a great op­por­tu­nity to launch my­self into a new elec­tri­fy­ing ex­pe­ri­ence and to be even closer to my fans with the WRX,” said Loeb. “I look for­ward to dis­cov­er­ing this new fron­tier.”

Loeb is fourth in 2017 points

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