Sebastien Loeb and Daniel Elena in a Citroen DS3 WRC car in 2012Enlarge Photo
Despite fears Citroen may pull out of the World Rally Championship next year due to financial constraints, the French automaker has confirmed it's committed to the sport and will be racing at the start of the 2013 season next January.
Citroen, which won the championship last year, thanks to the efforts of stellar driver Sebastien Loeb, outlined plans for its future involvement in WRC in an announcement at the 2012 Paris Auto Show
Thanks to a new partnership agreed with Team Abu Dhabi, the seven-time championship winning team will continue to compete in rallying, entering three Citroen DS3 WRC cars in 2013.
The works team will feature the Mikko Hirvonen and Jarmo Lehtinen crew for the entire season. However, Sebastian Loeb and Daniel Elena will join them in a partial racing program due to start at the Rallye Monte-Carlo.
Citroen’s decision to stay in WRC is based on the automaker’s belief that its participation so far has contributed to the development of its image around the globe. At the same time, the automaker concedes that the economic situation, especially in Europe, looks bleak, which is why it is reducing its financial commitment by partnering with Abu Dhabi.
Note, the highly successful Loeb-Elena partnership, which already has eight world titles, and will perhaps have a ninth this year, won’t be aiming for a title next year but will be racing just for fun and sponsorship commitments. Of more interest, Citroen has confirmed it’s looking at entering the World Touring Car Championship in 2014 or 2015, and with its star driver Loeb in tow.
Also in Paris, Hyundai announced its intention to return to WRC next year with a new i20 WRC car
, where it will join other new teams MINI and Volkswagen.