The 9-time WRC World Champion on his debut in the German touring championship with the Ferrari AlphaTauri AF Corse: “Filing the last tenths of a second to be competitive is really difficult, you have to drive clean and aggressive at the same time. In the Rally I drive with a free spirit, here I have to learn “
Question: Is there anything Sebastien Loeb can’t do with a steering wheel in his hands? It would seem not, because the 9-time World Rally Champion, not happy with second place in the Dakar 2022, with the victory of the Monte Carlo Rally with mathematics teacher Isabelle Galmiche at the notes and with the commitments in Extreme E, is also back on track , on one of the most spectacular tracks in Europe. The Cannibal runs the first DTM race of the season in Portimao with the Ferrari AlphaTauri AF Corse team replacing Nick Cassidy, busy with Formula E on the weekend of May 1st. And, in fact, it is a debut for the 48-year-old Alsatian. “The DTM for me is something complicated – explains Sebastien Loeb – The level is very high and there are the best GT drivers in the world. I’m not a discipline specialist and being competitive right away isn’t easy. The last time I drove in the GT was 2013, it’s been a really long time and a lot has changed. But I do my best, I have no pressure on me. In FP2 I also managed to improve the time of the morning, so I’m happy ”.
Loeb, what is the goal of the weekend?
“To give the best and not to be last. In qualifying and in the race I hope to experience the same sensations I felt during FP2. I don’t see myself among the first but not even among the last, we’ll see what our pace will be “.
What experience and what kind of teaching does running in so many disciplines give you?
“It’s something I like to try out so many different disciplines. Cross Country is similar to Rally, driving on a track is a completely different way of working and driving. It is not always easy to have the rhythm ”.
What are you working on to adapt your rally driving style to this track experience?
“We have to try to understand where the limit is and optimize the small details. Also these cars have ABS under braking – that’s something I’m not used to and I’m trying to do it. I tried some long runs to increase the pace and gain more confidence with the car ”.
What is the most difficult thing to adapt to coming from the Rally?
“It’s something really very different from what I’m used to doing and how I’m used to driving. How they find the last tenths of a second to be competitive is the hardest thing for me, because I’m not used to working with a thousand data and going 15 times in the same spot. In Rally I run with a natural spirit and I don’t think about anything else. Here at each corner you have to remember exactly how to take it and you have to think about where you can file the time the next lap. I’m not a specialist in these things but it’s all more experience ”.
Is it more complicated to have race pace or single lap time for qualifying?
“This is a good question. Both (laughs, ed). The truth is, I don’t know. It will certainly be difficult for me to be immediately competitive in qualifying, because you only have one good attempt to play, the first with new tires. The second attempt is unlikely to be as good as the first. In the race, having a good pace is not taken for granted with so many cars on the track ”.
If you were to explain GT3 cars and how they are to be driven, how would you describe them?
“You have to be very aggressive when braking, that’s where it makes the difference. If you optimize your braking with ABS, you save time. You have to drive clean but at the same time aggressive and finding this limit is not easy at all ”.
Did you exchange any mutual advice with your partner Felipe Fraga?
“We just compared the data and tried to see where I could optimize my driving. I’m working with engineers to improve ”.
Are you interested in racing in other categories on the track?
“Not for the moment. In addition to this race in the DTM I am involved in the WRC, in the Extreme E and in the Cross Country: this is okay for this year, we will see next year “.
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