Belfast Telegraph

Sebastien Loeb joins Kris Meeke for championship opener in Monte Carlo

By Sammy Hamill

Kris Meeke will have a new Citroen team-mate for the Monte Carlo Rally - Sebastien Loeb no less.

The French legend, a nine-times World champion, is to re-join the team for a one-off appearance in the opening round of next year's World championship, a rally he has won a record seven times.

Loeb will drive a DS3 Citroen alongside Meeke, the one driver so far named in the Citroen team for 2015, and will be nominated for WRC points. He has won 78 World championship rallies, almost three times more than any other driver, including Rally Ireland in 2007 and '09.

But he retired in 2013, taking up the new challenge of the World Touring Car Championship with Citroen, finishing third.

However, his love of rallying has never waned and he says he jumped at the chance of returning for Monte Carlo, his favourite rally.

"I didn't hesitate for a second," said Loeb. "Obviously, it's going to be a personal challenge for me, as I haven't competed in a rally for over a year."

He will begin preparations this weekend when he takes part in the French Rallye du Var, with wife Severine co-driving in one of this year's WRC Citroens. "That will give me the chance to re-acquaint myself with the car," he said.

Loeb will also join Meeke for pre-Monte Carlo test sessions in an updated version of the DS3 which is being prepared for next season. The Dungannon driver conducted initial tests of a new engine and aero package in Portugal last week.

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