MOTORSPORT NEWS TOURING CAR

Sebastien Loeb Racing enter WTCR with two Golf GTI TCR

After securing the 2016 and 2017 titles in the World Touring Car Championship Trophy category, capped with a third place finish overall in the WTCC Drivers’ Championship last year, Sébastien Loeb Racing has decided to extend its involvement at the highest level of international touring car racing by joining the newly-launched FIA World Touring Car Cup (WTCR).

Drawing upon its vast experience around the world’s most famous racetracks, the French team has selected the Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR, the latest charger developed by Volkswagen Motorsport and the 2017 TCR International Series title-winning car, for this year’s WTCR assault. Sébastien Loeb Racing has entrusted its 350bhp front-wheel drive machines to a pair of top touring car talents in Rob Huff and Mehdi Bennani, who placed second and third respectively in last year’s WTCC Trophy classification.

The overall 2012 WTCC Drivers’ Champion, Huff joins the Alsace-based squad with high targets. The English star is also renowned for his nine wins at the iconic Macau street circuit, which is set to play host to the 2018 WTCR season finale. Having flown the Sébastien Loeb Racing flag since 2015, team-mate Bennani has built up an impressive resumé to emerge at the forefront of the field and is primed to feature among the title contenders with the Golf GTI TCR. Once again, the nine-time WRC champion’s team has put together the best technical and sporting package in a bid to extend the string of world title successes they have claimed since 2016.

“Staying with Sébastien Loeb Racing for another campaign was an easy and obvious decision as we have built a strong relationship of trust over the years,” said Mehdi Bennani. “WTCR cars are slightly different from the previous ones I raced but our technical team has already showcased their professionalism and expertise, so I’m confident we can fight for wins right from the start with the Golf GTI TCR. The race format is the same as in recent years and we are familiar with all circuits on the calendar. I can’t wait to get stuck in with the entire staff for the first tests, and really look forward to featuring at the sharpest end of the grid for my home race in Marrakech, which kicks off the season in April.”

“It’s great to join the WTCR with Sébastien Loeb Racing,” enthused Rob Huff for his part. “They’ve won the independents’ title for the last two years, so I am in the perfect team to fight right at the front. My aim this year is absolutely to win the championship. I’m very familiar with the circuits and have already had the opportunity to race the Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR in the TCR International Series last year. The team and I are thus extremely well prepared and equipped to work straight on unlocking more performance and race at the front. Then, ending the year at Macau, my favourite circuit, is absolutely perfect. I took my ninth win there last year, and hopefully this season we’ll be in a position to win the title and also put my Macau victory tally into double figures come November.”

“Since 2015, the Sébastien Loeb Racing team has collected many trophies and accolades in the WTCC,” concluded Dominique Heintz, who co-founded the squad with Sébastien Loeb. “Given our strong results, we had to extend our involvement at the top. The launch of WTCR is excellent news, as it combines well-thought technical regulations with high media exposure to teams like ours thanks to promoter Eurosport Events’s proficiency and know-how. In the Golf GTI TCR, Volkswagen Motorsport has developed the ideal car to fight for race wins and we already enjoy a strong and fruitful relationship with them. As for our drivers, their talent and skills mean we’re confident that we have the best assets to keep adding to our tally and list of achievements.”