Sébastien Loeb and Daniel Elena have officially announced the end of their rallying partnership, after 24 years together.
The pair won a total of 79 events in the World Rally Championship as well as nine titles between 2004 and 2012, with the relationship continuing over to cross-country competition on the Dakar Rally.
Elena was part of the first Dakar outing for the Prodrive-run Bahrain Raid Xtreme team but split with Loeb in March this year after that event.
The Monégasque did, however, team up with Loeb earlier in September for the Mont-Blanc Morzine round of the French Asphalt Championship in a Peugeot 306 Maxi.
But with Loeb set to contest selected rallies in the future, Elena has taken the decision to withdraw his services, as he looks to spend more time with his family.
Speaking together on Elena’s social media, Loeb said: “We have made a decision together, we’ve discussed it because, I will probably do some rallies in the future and we’re not necessarily going to do them together.
“It’s a decision that we have taken together, for different reasons. Daniel has his and I have mine, nothing more.
“Daniel will have a lot of time to spend with his family, his kids and his shop and his clothesline!”
Elena said that the end of the partnership was a ‘book which is closing’ and something which he had spent time considering since his departure from Prodrive’s BRX operation in March. But the experienced co-driver reiterated that the friendship he has with Loeb remains ‘intact’.
“The history from the [split] in March made me reconsider a lot of things,” Elena explained.
“For me, the motivation [required] to prepare for a race or otherwise, well it’s gone, and that’s coming from a big passionate guy.
“We talked about it all, we are big boys, and the friendship remains intact. We’ve been friends in and out of the car.
“I’m turning the page, I want to concentrate on other things, I’m turning 50 next year and I have my shop and I can’t really focus on two things at once, [my wife] Anaïs will be the first one to tell you that! So, this is why we are making this special announcement.”
Loeb has recently been testing M-Sport’s hybrid Rally1 car in Spain alongside veteran co-driver Isabella Galmiche ahead of a potential appearance on the Monte Carlo Rally in January.
Reflecting on his time spent with Elena during their WRC career, Loeb put the success in the discipline down to a synergy between the two which began under auspicious circumstances.
“Danos and I have done our entire career together, I would say that all of our successes, all our titles are down to a meeting we had, in a gîte during some tough times trying to find enough money for a recce,” Loeb reflected.
“We stumbled across each other, and then my co-driver stopped, and his driver stopped. And in the corner of a bar, we asked each other what we were doing next year: ‘ah, nothing really!’. So, we started from nothing, and we worked together all of our career, fine-tuned a few things to get to where we did.
“So, what I retain from our partnership is the nine titles, everything we achieved in the WRC, that’s now behind us although I am still wanting to drive.”
Adamo and Matton add tributes to Loeb-Elena
Current head of Hyundai Motorsport – for whom Loeb and Elena spent two part-seasons – Andrea Adamo praised the pairing for their collaboration with his outfit.
“It was an honor to have worked with Danos and Séb,” said Adamo. “It was always a bit surprising that these two guys who I admired so much, would themselves be asking me questions right up until the final rally [together]. Danos is a legend – and also a legend at parties – and that’s why I will be arranging everything for the next Monte Carlo at the Rascasse on the Sunday night!”
FIA rally director Yves Matton, formerly team principal of Citroën Racing where Elena had most of his success, added: “A page is turning in the story of Daniel Elena who is leaving the professional motorsport life, I had only ever known you as a professional co-driver.
“After you called me, I had a chance to think about how long we have known each other and it scared me a little bit, as it’s been over 20 years now, in Australia 2002. That was our first mission together, in the Citroën team.
“It was a long and fruitful partnership between you two; a different sort of story for me as I started as a simple logistics guy and ended up being team principal but what I retain from this time was the long friendship we all had together.”
Elena’s WRC record:
Stage wins: 921
World titles: 9