Loeb, who captured his ninth title on Rallye de France Alsace earlier this month, had been leading in the Mediterranean when he broke his Citroen’s steering striking rocks on Friday’s opening test.
Although his DS3 WRC could have been repaired, with the drivers’ and manufacturers’ championships decided, Loeb and co-driver Daniel Elena have decided to head for home rather than tackling the gravel rally’s remaining eight stages.
“I’m just a bit disappointed to retire, because I was enjoying my driving,” said Loeb. “As there is no longer anything at stake, we have decided not to rejoin tomorrow.”
Despite Loeb’s exit, the Citroen Total World Rally Team remains on course for a ninth victory of 2012 courtesy of Mikko Hirvonen, who is more than one minute in front of Evgeny Novikov in the second works Citroen.
“The way the rally has turned out so far just goes to show how difficult the stages are in Sardinia,” said Citroen Racing chief Yves Matton. “Everyone went off today at a frenetic pace, starting with our two drivers who were going for the win. Seb made a minor mistake, which proved very costly, whilst Mikko has produced the perfect race so far.”