World Rally Championship legend Sebastien Loeb admits he is worried about ending up lost in the desert during his Dakar Rally debut in 2016.
The nine-time WRC champion will embark on his first run through the world-famous rally raid as part of Peugeot’s factory team, and will be partnered by long-time co-driver Daniel Elena.
And while Loeb has already started preparing for the event and is very happy with the updated Peugeot 2008DKR, the Frenchman admits he is wary of hitting trouble in the famously challenging race.
“For sure, I am a bit afraid to get lost in the desert with Daniel, but that’s part of the game and that’s why we prepare as well as possible,” he said.
“At the moment, I’m afraid, but I hope we will be ready before Dakar, I hope we will be confident that we won’t be lost.”
Loeb made his rally-raid debut in Morocco earlier this month, and spent hours stranded on the side of the road – but showed very strong pace on the days that went problem-free.
However, the Frenchman played down his hopes for his Dakar debut.
“I know that some drivers have won the race on their first participation in the past, but the conditions weren’t the same – they arrived with the best car and won immediately,” Loeb said.
“Now, our rivals are really strong. I also have some of the best drivers in my team with a lot of experience so I think it’s a bit too early to dream about [winning].
“For sure I hope I will be able to win Dakar one day – I will work for it and we will see. When I do something, the goal is to win.”
Choosing Elena as co-driver
“Daniel wasn’t the logical choice,” admitted Loeb, explaining why he opted to continue with his long-time co-driver instead of picking someone with rally-raid experience.
“It would have been logical to choose an experienced co-driver, but to do it with Daniel is something special.
“He has always been with me in my rallies so it’s a nice story to continue together.
“But I don’t think the friendship between me and Daniel can replace the experience of the other co-drivers and drivers. So the only way we have of achieving our targets is work.”