Sebastien Loeb will return to the World Rallycross championship this year driving an electric version of the Lancia Delta Integrale for Special ONE Racing.
Loeb will race alongside Special ONE founder Guerlain Chicherit in a two-car lineup, and will mark a return to the category which he previously contested between 2016-18, winning two events.
The nine-time World Rally Champion admitted that he had a “weakness” for the iconic Delta Integrale which he watched rallying in the 1990s, and revealed that a test in Special ONE’s electric version at the end of last year persuaded him to mount a World RX return with the team.
“I’m from a generation that was brought up seeing wins by Lancia Deltas in rallying, so naturally I have a weakness for this car,” Loeb said, “but when Guerlain spoke to me the first time about tackling a rallycross season with it, I thought he was mad!
“Then I tried the car last December and was immediately won over by its dynamic qualities. I have great faith in this project and I can’t wait to champion it on tracks around the world.
Since Leaving World RX at the end of 2018 following Peugeot’s departure from the category, Loeb has returned to the WRC on a part-time basis, contesting 12 rallies between 2019-22 for Hyundai and M-Sport Ford. He won last year’s Monte Carlo Rally, his eighth victory at the event.
He made two starts in DTM too, driving a Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo at the start of 2022, finished second in the Dakar Rally twice, and was runner up in last year’s World Rally Raid championship. He also took the Extreme E title alongside Cristina Gutierrez last year driving for Lewis Hamilton’s X44 outfit.
“I’m very motivated for the challenge, and I think rallycross is the ideal discipline for electrification because we have a lot of power and the races are short. These cars are exciting to drive, and World RX is the perfect platform to promote their evolution. The show on-track is just amazing, with great fights and even more spectacular action than before, and now we have the opportunity to attract a whole new generation of fans.”
Special ONE – which has committed to running cars in World RX for at least three seasons – is effectively a rebrand of Chicherit’s GCK operation, which has run in World RX in various forms since 2018. It aligns with Chicherit’s Special ONE business which retrofits and sells classic cars with all-electric drivetrains, including the Integrale-based Delta Evo-e which it is running in World RX.
“It’s a dream of mine to be able to align two cars from my own brand with World RX, one of which is entrusted to a sporting legend,” said Chicherit. “The scene is set to see Special ONE Racing become a top-notch team.
“From this season, we’ll have the opportunity to make history, becoming the first to have a retrofitted car win a World Championship event.”
The 2023 World RX season, the second of its all-electric formula, kicks-off on June 3-4 in Montalegre, Portugal