(Motorsport-Total.com) – The feel is great: As predicted by Motorsport-Total.com, Red Bull has announced record world rally champion Sebastien Loeb as a replacement for Nick Cassidy’s DTM at AF Corse. The 48-year-old Frenchman will replace the New Zealander, who has been banned from attending the weekends due to his Formula E contract with Envision, at least at the DTM opening in Portimao at the end of April.
© Red Bull
Sebastien Loeb will play the opening match of the DTM season in this AF Corse Ferrari
“In my career, I’ve always liked to change majors,” says Loeb, who has made trips to the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the World Touring Car Championship WTCC during his career. “DTM is a popular championship and when I had the opportunity to participate, I jumped in. It’s an exciting challenge because the driving style is completely different.”
Red Bull leaves open whether the start with the two races in Portugal will remain Loeb’s only DTM outing. Because Cassidy also has to find a solution for the fourth weekend of the season at Norisring, which also ran afoul of Formula E. And at the spa weekend, he was already nominated for AF Corse’s WEC campaign at Fuji.
Other tasks: Red Bull does not commit itself
So it is entirely possible that one will want to wait for the start before announcing more assignments. However, the truth is that Loeb is certainly entitled to points as his use is not a classic guest start, but he has taken possession of one of the cars permanently registered with Ferrari in Cassidy’s AlphaTauri design.
With Loeb, who won his last nine World Rally Championship titles in 2012 and racked up 80 wins to his credit, the DTM made a stunning reversal. Because in addition to the standard starting field of 29 vehicles (these drivers will be starting in 2022), you now have a real star at the start.
How did the experience become possible?
The exciting experience of seeing a multi-level motorsport driver in a DTM is made possible by Red Bull because the Austrian energy drink group has been supporting Loeb since 2008, when it became a sponsor of the Citroen rally team. He is responsible for selecting drivers for the AF Corse team, which sent Brazilian Felipe Fraga to Cassidy’s side this year.
No wonder DTM president Gerhard Berger is so happy. “Having the most successful rally driver ever in the opening match of our season in Portimao is a real highlight that the fans can look forward to,” said the Austrian.
© Red Bull
Thanks to Red Bull in the DTM: Loeb has been supported by the Austrians since 2008 Zoom
Despite his resounding success, Berger expects Loeb to face “tough competition against very strong drivers”.
Loeb, who this year alone with his victory in the Monte Carlo Rally as the main guest, his victory in the Race of Champions and second place in the Dakar Rally has proven that he still manages to put on top performances despite his age, was not completely left without experience in GT cars on the adventure.
Loeb begins this week in the Hockenheim test
The Alsatian, who also competes in Lewis Hamilton’s Extreme E series, has already driven a number of GT3 races in his career, including AF Corse’s design debuts at Red Bull in the French GT Championship.
Having already tested AF Corse’s Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo for DTM at Spa-Francorchamps last week, preparations continue this week with the official DTM test in Hockenheim. While the supporting series is used on Mondays and Thursdays, DTM exams are held on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
Lube will be there too. “Now is the time to go to work,” says the Alsatian, who by no means underestimates the task. “I will be competing with specialists in races like this and it has been a long time since my last real GT3 race. My goal is to find my rhythm as best I can and I will try to use my experience to do that to give good feedback on the car’s settings.”
The high-profile DTM newcomer says he knows “it’s going to be tough, but the cars are really fun to drive. Really fast and nice cars, so I’m looking forward to that.”
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