‘A NEW CHAPTER IN OUR HISTORY’: Nine-time World Rally champion Sebastian Loeb has left the Citroen team and will race for Peugeot at the 2016 Dakar event. Image: AFP
Paris, France - Citroen announced on Thursday (November 19) that it will not take part in the 2016 World Rally Championship as it prepares a new car for the 2017 season,
The French automaker also confirmed that nine-time champion Sebastien Loeb has switched to the Peugeot stable for the Dakar Rally.
The manufacturers said in a statement, adding that they will continue in the World Touring Car Championship (WTCC): "In order to dedicate as many resources as possible to development of the new car, the Citroen Racing team will be putting its participation in the WRC on hold next season."
CEO of Citroen, Linda Jackson, said: "With eight world titles and a record 94 wins, Citroen has certainly enjoyed unrivalled success in the WRC.
"Rallying is a fascinating sport, which tests the performance, reliability and solidity of the cars and drivers in some magnificent settings. The category is taking off again, with increasingly widespread live television coverage and the arrival of China on the calendar in 2016.
"In 2017, the appearance of a new generation of cars, which are purported to be very attractive, will coincide with our renewed involvement."
The cars to be used from the 2017 season are wider, more powerful and more impressive, with imposing aerodynamic features, replacing the current generation of World Rally Cars introduced in 2011.
Citroen team principal Yves Matton: "We have never hidden our interest in the 2017 WRC regulations and the entire team is extremely motivated by this new challenge.
Loeb to compete in Dakar with Peugeot
"We like the freedom granted to make the cars more spectacular, but also the possibility of reusing development work done on the Citroen C-Elysee WTCC's engine."
Citroen added that Loeb, a nine-time World Rally Champion with Citroen and also one of the most versatile drivers ever seen in the history of motor sport, has chosen to take on the Dakar Rally alongside his long-time co-pilot Daniel Elena as part of the Peugeot Sport team.
Loeb said: "This marks the end of one chapter for me, but what I want to focus on today is my satisfaction at having participated in Citroen's success in the WRC and WTCC."
The 41-year-old champion however used Twitter to express his regret at Citroen's decision and its impact on him personally.
"I was surprised when I realised I wouldn't be carrying on with Citroen Racing in 2016," said the man who won 78 races between 2002-2013.
"I'm disappointed it only lasted two years, because I was really up for going after another title and I'd shown just how competitive I am in the C-Elysee."