Q & A: Daniel Elena on Sebastien Loeb's decision to carry on rallying

Having already downloaded the Sebastien Loeb's thoughts on remaining with Citroen in the World Rally Championship for another two years, AUTOSPORT's David Evans sought out the opinion of the man closest to him - Daniel Elena

Q & A: Daniel Elena on Sebastien Loeb's decision to carry on rallying

Elena has shared every one of Loeb's 66 wins and seven titles as his co-driver in the Citroen squad. Here's what the 38-year-old Monagasque had to say about the deal, and why, for him, it means the continuation of a truly great partnership.

Q. Did you think all this might be coming to an end?

Daniel Elena: "When we started this season, Sebastien said to me: 'Maybe this is the last one. It's long now, it's seven titles and, yes, maybe it's the last one.' Okay, no problem. He started to look for DTM or some other competition and then after this season, it's going faster and faster and faster and, for me, this is the most famous season this year; this year takes more motivation than before. It's nice for the sport [that we're staying] - and for me too!

Q. Did Sebastien talk to you much about the decision?

DE: "He speaks with me, but every time I told him the last decision was his. I said: 'If you want to continue, I continue. If you want to stop, I stop. If you want to go to Volkswagen, I come with you to Volkswagen - you are the boss.'"

Q. How did he tell you?

DE: He called me on the telephone and said, "I'm staying," so I said: "Okay, me too."

Q. Would you still have the same motivation for next year?

DE: "When you start the race, you have 100 per cent motivation and you start the season wanting to win all of the races. For me, next year, we will certainly have the same motivation."

Q. What makes this year more special for you? Is it the fight with [Sebastien] Ogier?

DE: "You can't say that because of Ogier, when a lot of the time we are fighting with Mikko [Hirvonen] at the end as well. It's because there are five drivers this year who are fighting. Maybe the new regulations have given us that, certainly we have to push more this year."

Q. Would you have been sad to stop?

DE: "It's okay. I have other things, my company in Monaco and I would like to go to FIA for the future of rally. I have a lot of experience now and you have to put some young blood on the federation."

Q. What side of the FIA interests you?

DE: "The safety and the organisation of the race, with the marshals and things like this. I know well that, sometimes, when we arrive at the first time control of the race and the marshal is needing to be corrected; and working on the roadbook and on the stages, there is always something to do."

Q. Is it possible Sebastien would have retired if the running order regulation hadn't been changed?

DE: "Maybe. It's been a disaster. It's been more dry this year. Look at the weather, each race, more dry - no rain. It's never been like this before and in the dry you have to clean, to clean, to clean, every time. Sometimes, you arrive in Greece and Sardinia and you can have some rain, but now never. This has been the hardest year for running at the front of the field and cleaning the road.

"[Changing this regulation] has been very important in his decision to continue. If it stayed the same, I'm sure he would have stopped. He was very angry, we couldn't carry on like this. It's easy for the others, they have the best cleaner of the road; all the time they can just fall back, back, back and let us go ahead.

Q. Would you ever consider sitting with another driver?

DE: "Me? Now, no. Me as the driver, yes! But Sebastien as my co-driver? No!"

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Daniel Elena says rule changes to the sport are what kept Sebastien Loeb from quitting

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