A frustrated Sebastien Loeb will return to the Tour de Corse tomorrow following his early exit from his home round of the World Rally Championship on Friday morning.
The Frenchman, on the second event of his planned three-rally WRC return, retired from the opening day after sliding off the road close to the start of the second stage.
Loeb said: “I was too fast into the corner. I got some understeer, I couldn’t slow down the car enough to turn.
“I tried to avoid a tree in front but then got stuck on the side of a ditch.
“We tried to push the car with the help from the spectators, but we pushed it in the wrong way and pushed it in the ditch – in the end the car was stuck there.
“It’s really frustrating to be like this at the start of the rally, now all I can do is make some fun for the fans.
“It was looking good. I was in a good rhythm, it was promising to be in the fight, but now it’s just for fun.”
Competing in Corsica for the first time since his fourth straight win on the French island in 2008, Loeb was second quickest through the 30-mile opener. He ended the test 9.7s down on Ogier’s Ford Fiesta WRC, but 8.4 up on the third fastest man Ott Tanak (Toyota).
Loeb’s rivals were quick to praise the nine-time champion’s early efforts on that opening stage.
Championship leader Ogier told Autosport: “That was an impressive time in the first stage.
“Hats off to him for what he has done; to come back and be the closest to me is really a good job from him.
“I don’t know what happened in the second one, but it’s a shame he’s gone.”
Asked if he thought Loeb’s time in rallycross – with its constantly changing grip levels – might have helped in the mixed conditions on the opener, Loeb’s Citroen team-mate Kris Meeke offered: “Maybe. Possibly. Or maybe it’s just that he’s that good!”