Hyundai Motorsport have confirmed nine-time world rally champion Sebastien Loeb‘s contract with the team is coming to an end.
Alongside the news of Loeb leaving the Korean manufacturer, it was also announced Loeb has taken on a new challenge and will take part in the upcoming Dakar Desert Rally in Saudi Arabia in January with a car built by British outfit Prodrive.
46-year-old Loeb has been involved with the Hyundai team since 2019. Last season, he drove six WRC rounds in a i20 WRC and finished third in Chile in his best result. This year, Loeb only had two WRC outings, as the COVID-19 significantly reduced the number of rallies he was set to compete in.
Loeb and co-driver Daniel Elena competed on their last WRC rally less than two weeks ago in Turkey, where they also ended up with a third place finish.He will now not take part in any more events this year, with Dani Sordo driving the team’s third car in Sardinia next week and Craig Breen having today been announced to be competing in Belgium in November.
“Here we are at the end of the adventure with Hyundai Motorsport – and what an adventure it has been! I am extremely grateful for the opportunity they gave me during these two years by offering me a partial program, totally in line with my expectations, within a very professional team and in a pleasant atmosphere.” Loeb said.
“These two years have passed extremely quickly – this one having also been cut by several months as a result of the pandemic – but they will have marked part of my career, and with another manufacturer title success to which I contributed. For me, Hyundai Motorsport gave me the best WRC car I have ever driven, and I was glad I could compete at the highest level with the latest generation of WRC cars. Now, a new chapter will open in 2021 with Prodrive in Rally Raid but who knows for WRC; neither Hyundai Motorsport nor I want to completely close the book for good.”
Loeb is by far the most successful driver in WRC history after his 79 wins and 119 podiums. His most successful years were with Citroën, where he won nine championships in a row between 2004 and 2012.
“Ever since Séb and Danos joined our team in 2019, we have been privileged to have their wealth of expertise and experience in our team. All areas of our operation have benefitted from their know-how, directly or indirectly. Their contribution helped us to fight for – and win – the championship last season.” Andrea Adamo, Team Principal of Hyundai Motorsport WRC team, added.
“Their knowledge and commitment was perfectly demonstrated in the tougher rallies like Chile and Turkey. The pandemic has meant we haven’t been able to use them as we had intended this season, but their performance in Turkey was a reminder to everyone of their ever-present ability and speed. We wish them all the best in their next chapter and keep our doors wide open to them should they ever wish to return.”