Sebastien Loeb will be a contender for FIA World Rally Championship honours in 2013 although the French legend is unlikely to mount a title push after confirming a reduced programme of events with the factory Citroen team next year.
Loeb’s participation in the WRC beyond this season has been the subject of widespread discussion since he penned an extension to his existing deal with Citroen in August 2011. Although the agreement committed Loeb to a full WRC term in 2012, an option allowed him to do otherwise the following season.
The 38-year-old, who is likely to make it nine WRC titles in succession on next week’s Rallye de France Alsace, is now set to expand his interests in circuit racing alongside what Citroen has described as a “partial programme” in the WRC starting on January’s Rallye Monte-Carlo alongside long-term co-driver Daniel Elena.
Citroen has also confirmed it is “weighing up the possibility of entering” the FIA World Touring Car Championship in 2014 with Loeb as one of its drivers.
Mikko Hirvonen and co-driver Jarmo Lehtinen, currently second in the WRC standings, will get a full campaign in the series next season when Citroen will begin a new partnership with Abu Dhabi.
Loeb’s lighter WRC schedule will pave the way for a new line-up to crew Citroen’s second factory DS3 WRC. Citroen has stated an announcement will be made in “due course”, while also confirming that Emirati Khalid Al-Qassimi will pilot a third DS3 WRC.