Sebastien Loeb has insisted that the World Rally Championship remains his number one priority, despite speculation that he might replace Sebastien Bourdais and drive for Scuderia Toro Rosso in F1.

Loeb, who tested for Red Bull Racing at the end of 2008, seemingly put his name forward as a candidate to replace the under-fire ex-Champ Car star in an interview with French sports daily newspaper L'?quipe.

"If Toro Rosso need a driver I'd love to help out," the 35-year-old allegedly told the 'paper. "I've heard talk of this possibility [regarding] S?bastien Bourdais, but nothing has happened. I'd race instead of him.

"Who knows, as long as the Formula 1 and rallying calendars don't overlap anything is possible. If there is a place at Toro Rosso, I'm available."

However, Loeb has since said that his comments have been taken out of context and that his number one aim is to defend his WRC Drivers' title - he has won it a record five times already - and ensure Citroen take the manufacturers' crown.

Indeed reigning British F3 Champion and current RBR and STR reserve driver Jaime Alguersuari is thought to be the favourite to get the nod, if Bourdais is dropped prior to the next F1 event in Hungary.

"I know what my priority is: it is the World Rally Championship," Loeb stated today in a statement issued by Citroen.

"But what would you expect a driver to answer if asked whether he would like to drive a Formula 1 car? That said, with four rallies still to come, we have our work cut out if we want to secure a sixth Drivers' title and a fifth Manufacturers' crown. For the moment, my energy is fully focused on that goal.

"I am a little surprised by the turn this whole business has taken, and above all by the way what I said has been misquoted or taken out of context to spread rumours. It just isn't really my style to make declarations in the press about S?bastien Bourdais."

Citroen Racing director Olivier Quesnel meanwhile noted that while they wouldn't stop Loeb if an opportunity to race in F1 came about, they would only let him do so after the final round in this year's WRC - the Wales Rally GB, which runs from October 21-25.

Citroen also stated that Loeb is under contract with them until the end of the current year and that 'negotiations for 2010 are in the process of being finalised'.

"Citro?n Racing has never prevented its drivers from expressing their passion for motor sport," Quesnel stated. "As we have already said, S?bastien Loeb is shortly due to do some testing with the Peugeot 908 HDi FAP, because I know how important it is for him to try his hand at different activities as a driver.

"Should Seb get an opportunity to race in F1, our reaction would not be to prevent that from happening, so long as it would happen after the final round.

"We've got the challenge of Rally Finland coming up at the end of the month. The 2009 FIA World Rally Championship is turning out to be a thrilling contest and I just hope that we will succeed in sparking the same sort of media interest as these rumours concerning Formula 1 have."