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Citroen to return to WRC in 2007

Citroen will return to the world rally championship in 2007 after pulling out at the end of this season, the French manufacturer announced on Wednesday

The carmaker added in a statement that France's world champion Sebastien Loeb would be able to compete in a privately-entered Xsara car next year.

The French manufacturer said the decision to return was due to measures agreed by the governing FIA that would significantly cut costs.

"The decision to return to the world rally championship was taken very quickly," said team boss Guy Frequelin. "The new regulations allow us to meet our budget targets.

"There is no longer anything standing in the way of our return to the sport."

Frequelin added: "We will be back in 2007 as we are now certain to have the required budget for the world championship.

"Regarding Sebastien Loeb, he has always felt comfortable with us and there is no reason for not having him back."

Citroen said 2006 would be a year of transition, with Loeb in a private team while they revived their C4 development programme.

"Loeb will drive for a private team in 2006 and will have a Citroen wheel the next season. In the meantime, he will help us to develop the new C4," Frequelin said.

The carmaker said: "Surveys conducted in-house by Citroen have clearly revealed that the WRC continues to stand out as the ideal form of motor sport for the brand."

Loeb has already won his second successive title while Citroen are battling stable mates Peugeot for the manufacturers' title. Peugeot are also pulling out at the end of the year.

Citroen won the title in 2003 and 2004.

The FIA announced major changes to the championship on Wednesday, with the season to be run from August to May from 2007 instead of January to November.

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