Loeb to miss 2023 WRC opener due to Dakar clash
By Iwan Jones
Tuesday 20th December, 2022 - 12:21pm
Sebastien Loeb will not contest the opening round of the 2023 FIA World Rally Championship season at Rallye Monte-Carlo, due to a date clash with the 2023 Dakar Rally.
It is understood that the nine-time WRC champion, who dramatically won this year’s Rallye Monte-Carlo with the M-Sport World Rally Team to claim his 80th WRC victory, was attempting to reach a deal with the British squad to take part in the event as part of a partial campaign in 2023.
However, he has been ruled out of the event with the recce for the WRC event taking place on Monday, January 16, 2023, the day following the conclusion of the 2023 Dakar Rally, which will take place from December 31, 2022 to January 15, 2023.
For the Dakar, Loeb will be reuniting with the Bahrain Raid Xtreme team which he finished second with in this year’s event alongside Belgian Fabian Lurquin in a Prodrive Hunter T1+.
In 2022, Loeb competed for M-Sport in four WRC rounds and remains set to compete in a limited number of events in 2023, despite not being able to run the Monte.
With the Frenchman out, Jourdan Serderidis will drive the third M-Sport Ford Puma Rally1 instead at the season-opening event.
In addition to Monte Carlo, Serderidis is slated to take part in Rally Mexico, Rally Italia Sardegna and Safari Rally Kenya.
The Greek privateer entered four WRC rounds in 2022, driving a Skoda Fabia Rally2 evo at Rally Italia Sardegna before linking with M-Sport World Tally Team at Safari Rally Kenya, where he finished seventh outright in recording his best result in the top-tier rally competition.
He retired from his home WRC round with electrical issues before taking part in his first asphalt WRC round in Spain, where he finished 28th.
It marks a shake-up to the team’s Rally1 line-up in 2023 following the demotion of Adrien Fourmaux to WRC2.
While remaining with the team, Fourmaux will team up with Gregoire Munster in the second-tier class, with the pair to drive the squad’s Ford Fiesta Rally2s.
Rallye Monte-Carlo will take place from January 19-22, 2023.