Sebastien Loeb has ended speculation about his future after agreeing a new two-year deal with Citroen that will take him through to the end of the 2013 World Rally Championship season.
The Frenchman has spent his entire career with Citroen – including a season running under the Kronos banner in 2006 after the manufacturer team was withdrawn for twelve months to prepare the C4 WRC – and has taken a grand total of 66 wins and seven successive titles.
Despite being the most successful driver in the history of the sport, Loeb has found himself under pressure following the emergence of Sebastien Ogier in recent years, with his fellow Frenchman appearing to be the man most likely to dethrone the champion.
Speculation had suggested that Loeb could elect to seek a fresh challenge away from Citroen but instead Loeb has now agreed a deal that will see him continue to drive a DS3 WRC for at least the next two years.
Co-driver Daniel Elena will also remain with the team for another two seasons.
“With the arrival of other manufacturers in the championship, the competition is going to get tougher in the years to come," Loeb said. "All the more so with the rule changes concerning the starting order coming in in 2012 as all the drivers will be fighting on a level playing field. To take the fight to them I'm putting my trust in Citroen, a team I know inside out and the DS3 WRC, the car that I helped set up with Citroen Racing.”
Citroen general manager Frederic Banzet welcomed Loeb's decision to sign on for another two seasons as he seeks to add to the titles already won.
“Sebastien Loeb is a great ambassador for the make,” he said. “Today, his image and ours are intimately linked. He incarnates the daring, the sporting spirit and the love of competition, values that are very dear to us. We're proud of his loyalty to Citroen, and of the fact that's he's continuing his career with the team that's supported him since his debut.”
News of Loeb's contract extension comes after speculation linking him with the World Touring Car Championship was downplayed despite his appearance in a Chevrolet Cruze during a private test at Rockingham last week.
Loeb tested the car after receiving a personal invite from fellow Frenchman Yvan Muller, who had competed against Loeb on Rally France last season in a privately entered Citroen Xsara.