M-Sport boss Malcolm Wilson believes Sebastien Loeb's departure from full-time competition in the World Rally Championship will be "fantastic" for the sport.
Nine-time World Champion Loeb heads into this week's Monte Carlo Rally preparing to make one of only four starts in the WRC in 2013 as he switches his focus to a potential World Touring Car Championship attack for next year. Wilson, who has fought against Loeb and Citroen throughout the Frenchman's reign as champion, is expecting a wide-open title fight to breathe some life back into the WRC.
Speaking at AUTOSPORT International last weekend, Wilson said: "With no Loeb it's really going to open up the championship. On one hand it's sad that he's not going to be there anymore, but on the other side it's fantastic for the sport. We are going to see a lot of drivers fighting for victories in WRC."
Wilson also admitted that Ford had been on the verge of signing Loeb when Citroen's future in rallying was uncertain a few years ago.
"In 2005 before we made the big attack with the new Ford Focus, we did speak," he said. "We came very close to joining forces, but then Citroen made the decision to continue.
"For obvious reasons he stayed there. It's fair to say he cost us a lot of championships!"