Monday | 29 Nov 2021

Elena calls time on WRC career

The FIA World Rally Championship’s most successful partnership between Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena is done. They’re finished, but very much still friends.

The announcement – made on social media – brings to a close a partnership that started in 1998. Since then, there have been nine world titles, 79 WRC wins and 119 podiums from 180 championship starts.

The pairing were unbeatable in a variety of Citroëns between 2004 and 2012 before a couple of seasons at Hyundai Motorsport came to a close at the end of last year.

They have tackled one French national rally together this year, but now Elena admits the time has come for him to focus on his family.

Video: The Greatest WRC Drivers: Sébastién Loeb

“I’m turning the page,” he said. “I want to concentrate on other things. I’m going to be 50 next year and I can’t really focus on two things at once. Anais (his wife) will be the first to tell you that.

“For me, the motivation to prepare for a race or otherwise? Well, it’s gone and that’s coming from a big passionate guy. We talked about it all, we are big boys and the friendship remains intact. We’ve been friends in and out of the car.”

There remains speculation that Loeb could be back in the WRC next season, with the Frenchman having tested M-Sport Ford’s hybrid Puma WRC Rally1. Loeb admitted the potential for a return to action meant a conversation with Elena.

Loeb said: “We have made a decision together. We’ve discussed it because I will probably do some rallies in the future and we’re not necessarily going to do them together. It’s a decision that we have taken together, for different reasons.

Two WRC greats bow out: Elena (left) follows Ingrassia into retirement

“Daniel will have a lot of time to spend with his family, his kids and his shop.”

The end of the Loeb-Elena relationship comes just a week after the termination of another legendary partnership in Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia. They reached the end of the road together by sealing an eighth WRC crown in Italy earlier this month.

For 17 of the last 18 years, the WRC has been won by one or the other. Moving forwards, WRC fans will face the strange sight of Loeb and Ogier being read pace notes by somebody other than Elena and Ingrassia.

That’s something that’s never happened for 348 rounds of the championship.

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