Sébastien Loeb is heading fo his ninth consecutive World Championship title. There will not be a tenth in 2013 since the Frenchman will only take part in some events.
– This desicion opens up for a very interesting championship next year, says Bertil Klarin, Clerk of the Course for Rally Sweden.
It was during the opening day of the Paris Motor Show that Citroën made public the news about Loeb. The worlds most successfull rally team – Loeb and codriver Daniel Elena – will race in the WRC premiere next year in Monte Carlo. How many more rallies there will be remains to be seen.
– If Loeb races in the premiere it’s unlikely that he will come to Sweden and Rally Sweden just a few weeks later, says Klarin, who is of two minds about Loebs decision.
– Even though Rally Sweden hasn’t been Loebs favourite event he did make history when he in 2004 was the first ever non-Scandinavian to win the rally. Naturally, it would be fun if he wanted to make one final apperance here, but at the same time he now leaves a championship wich could be the most interesting in years. Without LOeb there’s no given candidate for the title.
The last time someone else than Loeb won the WRC was 2003 when Petter Solberg was champion.
Citroën, with a recent new sponsor deal with Abu Dhabi, will field three Citroën DS3 WRC in 2013.
Mikko Hirvonen moves up to become first driver and the third seat goes to Khaled Al-Qassimi.
Who will replace Loeb in the rallies he doesn’t take part in, Citroën will announce at a later date.
During the Paris Motor Show Hyundai announced their return to WRC. The car, an I20 WRC, will most likely be tested and premiere during 2013 and eneter the WRC in ernest in 2014.
Hyundai will become the fifth manufacturer connected to WRC in 2013. The other are Citroën, Volkswagen, Ford and, hopefully, Mini.