Sebastien Loeb returns to World Rally Championship as team owner

Sebastien Loeb will return to the World Rally Championship in 2016, as a team owner

Sebastien Loeb returns to World Rally Championship as team owner

After four years competing at various levels of circuit racing, including the World Touring Car Championship, Sebastien Loeb Racing will move into rallying with a Junior WRC entry next season.

The nine-time World Rally champion will oversee the operation along with his co-driver Daniel Elena and long-time business partner and close friend Dominique Heintz.

While SLR will remain active in the WTCC with private Citroen C-Elysees, Loeb admitted the move to side of the sport where he made his name was inevitable.

"The team was bound to get involved in rallying," Loeb said.

"We first decided to compete on track mainly because that's where my career was going to take me, but we knew that one day rallying would be on the agenda.

"We just had not to rush into it, but wait until all the necessary elements would be gathered.

"Rallying is obviously very special for Dominique, Daniel and I. That's where it all started, we've enjoyed some incredible moments and we do hope to have a great experience with the team."

Citroen says it did not fire Loeb from WTCC team

Loeb and co-driver Elena having won the 2001 FIA Cup for Drivers of Super 1600 Cars, which was given the Junior World Rally Championship title one year later.

"The Junior WRC was a natural choice," he said.

"It's a championship that supports young drivers and enables them to shine and come to fame.

"I've been through that stage myself, almost 15 years ago. We're very enthusiastic."

Heintz admitted returning the Loeb name to the WRC was an exciting prospect.

"We'd been thinking about it for a while and we felt that it could just be the right time to do it now," he said.

"The team continues to grow on the track and will pick up momentum again in 2016 with several racing programmes, one of which will be the WTCC.

"But rallying is in our genes. It makes perfect sense for us and I'm really happy that it will become a reality in 2016.

"We've managed to put this jigsaw puzzle together. It's just happened very naturally."

Sebastien Loeb Racing is expected to confirm further details of its 2016 WRC programme early in the new year.

In the meantime, Loeb himself has flown to Buenos Aires to prepare for his first Dakar entry with Peugeot.

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