The undisputed greatest rally driver in the world is leaving the World Rally Championship, but Citroen could be building a new team around him for the World Touring Car Championship instead.
While marques like Audi, Lancia and Subaru have each dominated the World Rally Championship in the past, these days that place belongs rightfully to Citroen. With legendary rally driver Sebastien Loeb behind the wheel (and his sidekick Daniel Elena navigating), the French team has taken an unfathomable eight drivers' titles and seven manufacturers' titles in the WRC - and is well on its way to adding another. But after this season, Loeb and Elena will leave rallying. The question is, what comes next?
As far as the Citroen WRC program goes, it will continue without Loeb and Elena. Its second team of Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen (who currently sit second in this year's championship) will take the lead, with a second team to be named in the near future and, thanks to a new sponsorship deal with Abu Dhabi, a third car will be piloted by up-and-coming UAE driver Khaleed Al-Qassimi. We wouldn't count Loeb out of the equation just yet, though. He and Citroen are looking for new challenges to take on together, and have stated officially that they are considering an entry into the World Touring Car Championship.
"The role of brand ambassador for Citroen cannot be a passive one for someone as driven as Sébastien," stated Citroen Racing chief Yves Matton. "This project would give him the opportunity to pursue his career in track racing with the support of the manufacturer with which he has worked since his competitive debut." Although stopping short of an official announcement, that Citroen would state so boldly that it is considering a WTCC program indicates that the plans are well under way.