After a brief stint on the other side of the handbrake, as a driver in the French club rally scene in the mid-1990s, Elena decided to pursue a career as a co-driver instead and in 1997 competed in the French Volant Peugeot series with the Rallye Jeunes FFSA team.
At the end of the season, however, Elena’s driver Hervé Bernard decided to call it a day. As luck would have it, another competitor in the series, Sébastien Loeb, was looking for a new co-driver.
The pair hit it off immediately and partnered up for the next season before going on to win the Citroën Saxo Trophy in 1999, the two-wheel drive French gravel title in 2000 and the FIA Super 1600 championship in a Citroën Saxo in 2001.
The duo stepped up to the World Rally Car class in 2002 with the French manufacturer and began to rewrite the history books. They claimed their first win in Germany that year and missed the 2003 title by a single point.
They more than made up for that by winning nine consecutive titles from 2004 to 2012 before retiring from full-time competition.
Sporadic guest appearances followed before a partial programme was confirmed with Citroën Racing in 2018, culminating in a 79th victory in Spain.
Loeb and Elena switched to Hyundai Motorsport for 2019 for a six-round programme in an i20 World Rally Car.