Photo: Citroën Racing

Sébastien Loeb: “It was pretty intense”

Citroën Racing’s Sébastien Loeb took his first official pole position in the World Touring Car Championship, putting himself in front of the title battle between team-mates Yvan Muller and José María López at Paul Ricard and reminded them that he’s also still in the battle.

The nine-time world rally champion produced a storming final sector to grab provisional pole position away from Yvan Muller in the one-lap shootout, with José María López running last and unable to improve.

“It was pretty intense for sure,” said Loeb after qualifying. “We saw right from the start of qualifying that here it would be very, very tight, and you’d have to be over the limit all the time. I tried not to make any mistakes and take some risks. I made just a little mistake at Turn 9, but when I reached the apex I knew that I hadn’t lost too much.”

This is Loeb’s first pole position in the WTCC, although he achieved his first pole position last year at the same circuit, it was later removed as both he and team-mate José María López’s cars were discovered to have had a fuel cut-off valve irregularity.

“I’m really happy to have achieved that in France especially,” he added. “It’s been very difficult to fight with my two team-mates in qualifying as they’ve always been able to put everything together, but today I was able to do it and I hope to continue at this level.”

Team-mate Yvan Muller conceded the pole position with grace, collecting four points for second and reducing the points gap to López to 29 ahead of tomorrow’s races.

“The first and second sectors were very close, but he drove better than me in the last sector. I knew that was my bad point, I’ve tried to find the solution since yesterday, but I didn’t and he did.”