Hyundai Motorsport fans’ loyalties will be split this weekend as Sébastien Loeb heads for Rallye Vosges - Grande Est in France, leaving his colleagues to round eight of the WRC at Rally Italia Sardegna.
The nine-time world champion is delighted to be competing on the Alsatian roads on which he grew up, while Thierry Neuville, Dani Sordo and Andreas Mikkelsen tackle the tough tracks inland from Alghero on the Italian island of Sardinia.
While Loeb’s WRC programme for the second half of the season has yet to be decided, he will tackle the French national event this weekend and Rally di Alba in Italy at the end of July. He drives both events in a factory-specification i20 World Rally Car.
Loeb said: “It is a real pleasure to return to the French Rally Championship and to be able to ride in my region where it all began. I’m really looking forward to it and to find the special stages like Pays d’Ormont.
“We are going to gain experience with the team and kilometres with the car and to please the fans.”
Loeb enjoyed some of his finest WRC moments in the Alsace region, memorably winning the 2010 world title and celebrating with friends and family in his home town of Haguenau.
Hyundai Motorsport director Andrea Adamo said Loeb’s national outings were a great way of spreading the word for the Korean manufacturer.
He said: “Loeb in Vosges will be a great image for Hyundai France, which has already made a lot of activation from this programme. We will have lots of guest co-drivers at shakedown and we bring lots of guests to the rally."
Loeb is scheduled to contest six WRC rounds with Hyundai this season. Vodafone Rally de Portugal earlier this month was his fifth start.