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2012-09-28 08:22

RETIRING FROM WRC?: Sebastian Loeb says he hopes to "explore a new universe" in motorsport provided he can gain some more free time in the future.

Gregory Blachier

PARIS, France - Sebastian Loeb, eight-times World Rally champion and headed for a record ninth consecutive title in 2012, will not take part in all 2013 rallies.

Citroen Racing said on its website: "After eight, possibly soon to be nine, consecutive World titles Sebastien Loeb and (co-driver) Daniel Elena will not defend their title in 2013.

"They will take part in a partial racing programme in 2013, starting with the Monte Carlo rally which will open the 2013 season on January 15."


Loeb, who said he wanted to quit rallying at his peak, is leading the 2012 World championship with 219 points, 61 ahead of Citroen team mate Mikko Hirvonen, with three events to go. Hirvonen will become Citroen's main driver in 2013 with an announcement in due course about the second crew that will compete in rallies not attended by Loeb.

A Citroen DS3 WRC will also be entrusted to driver Khaleed Al-Qassimi.

Loeb, who won 74 times in his career, will continue to drive for Citroen, which has agreed a partnership with the emirate of Abu Dhabi to reduce costs, the French automaker said.

Citroen added: "In these tough economic times Citroen has taken the view that it is essential to remain in motorsport but equally important to find a way to reduce the brand's financial commitment to the team's operating costs."

PSA Peugeot-Citroen announced restructuring plans in July 2012 which involved 8000 lost jobs and the closure of one its biggest plants in France. Citroen racing team principal Yves Matton said: "In this context, we are particularly proud to welcome Abu Dhabi on board. This partnership will provide us with the means to continue our programme and enter three DS3 WRCs in 2013."


Citroen has won seven team championships with Loeb, whose eight consecutive titles constitute a record in all motor racing competition. He won his first race in 2002 in Germany, where he eventually had nine victories - another World record for a rally event.

Loeb combines an aggressive driving style with a scientific and efficient approach to racing and has been one of the most popular figures in French sport for years. He is regarded by the public as a simple, honest and hard-working man and was voted France's favourite sports personality three times in an annual poll conducted for the daily newspaper L'Equipe.

Loeb said: "Rallying is a big part of my life, something I will always love, and for that reason I will continue. In years to come, when I have a little more free time, I want to discover a new universe."

Loeb has raced twice at Le Mans and has been considering entering the World Touring Car championship with Citroen in 2014.

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