From Chris Biewer [ 15/06/2004 ].
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Peugeot Sport today has confirmed Freddy Loix again as one of their official 2004 drivers. The case was littered with curiosity when the FIA made a surprise U-turn on a previously confirmed 3rd drivers rule for 2004, just days after Peugeot confirmed their driver line up! Not surprisingly this left Peugeot in a mess with their drivers as Peugeot sacrificed a potential perfect #2 driver for having the two best #3 drivers available. The FIA change of mind virtually gave Peugeot no other option but to break their driver contracts. Harri Rovanperä was sacked but re-signed and has since proven that he is a good #2 driver on gravel. However for Freddy Loix a lifetime chance appeared to turn into a premature end of career.
Freddy's 2004 program was virtually unknown until now, nearly halfway point of the season. Peugeot Sport today announced that Freddy will drive the 2nd nominated 307 in the Rallye Deutschland, Tour de Corse and Rallye Catalunya. Peugeot Sport states that "Freddy Loix and Peugeot Sport are pleased with this agreement which will allow the former to demonstrate his driving skills on asphalt and enable Peugeot Sport to profit from valuable additional support." The decission to run Freddy as a nominated driver on asphalt has been made easier, because Freddy has meanwhile been a regular test driver. In this job he has shown a lot of promise and was majorly involved in helping the new 307 WRC progress as it did.
Freddy will carry on with his 307 WRC testing duties, partly in preparation for his own WRC comeback. It further is planned to enter Freddy in a non-WRC event in a Peugeot 206 WRC. The event has yet to be named. But you can bet that the Ypres Rally organisers are now kicking their backside for not having rejected their ERC status, as many other ERC scoring rounds did. The Ypres Rally, the probably most famous event on Belgian soil, would have been a favourite to run Freddy Loix in a works 206 WRC. However, as the organisers accepted the new ERC rules, they cannot allow WRCars to enter and such miss out on a true star entry!
The ERC itself seems to turn into a farce right now, while this series is also dominated by a Peugeot. The FIA has banned WRCars from ERC events. First they introduced a new category, the Regional Rally Car, but half way into the season, nobody has yet even announced to design such a car. Then the rule makers promoted the ERC as the perfect championship for Super 1600 cars. But it is Luca Pedersoli who dominates the championship in his F2 Peugeot 306 Maxi! The F2 Kit Car has a massive advantage of the Super 1600 and group N cars and arguably an RRCar, which basically is an F2 car plus 4 wheel drive, would not have changed that situation.
Switch back to the WRC: There might be a 3rd 307 on one of the asphalt events, however for now it is more likely to see a 3rd works 307 WRC first in the hands of promising Swede Daniel Carlsson, possibly in the Rally Finland. In any case, it seems to become ever more likely that Peugeot is going to enter a 3rd 307 at some point this season.