Sebastien Loeb and Daniel Elena

Go back a few days and nobody knew for sure whether Sebastien Loeb would be back on the rally stage next year. The seven-time world champion has little left to prove, and with new manufacturer-backed teams joining the paddock from Mini and Volkswagen, the competition looks to get that much more fierce. But, after an unusually long period of contemplation, Loeb and Citroën – the French team for whom he's driven since joining the WRC in 1999 – have announced a renewal of their contract for another two years.

The deal secures Loeb as well as his longtime co-driver Daniel Elena (pictured together above) for the 2012 season, with an option 2013. Loeb reportedly doesn't see himself staying in the WRC through 2014, but there's no telling what the temptation of a tenth title could bring should he prove able to continue his complete domination of the championship for the past eight years into another couple of titles. Follow the jump for the official announcement, which tellingly comes from the manufacturer as opposed to the team.
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SÉBASTIEN LOEB CONTINUES HIS CAREER WITH CITROËN

Citroën and Sébastien Loeb have decided to continue their fantastic sporting relationship into the 2012 and 2013 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) seasons.

Seven-time World Champion Sébastien Loeb, who has been with Citroën since 2001, has decided to continue his collaboration with the French make for another two seasons, and fight for more victories at the wheel of the DS3 WRC with his faithful co-driver, Daniel Elena.

Loeb is already bubbling with enthusiasm about this new challenge: "With the arrival of other manufacturers in the championship, the competition is going to get tougher in the years to come. The rule changes concerning the starting order coming in 2012 mean all the drivers will be fighting on a level playing field. To take the fight to them I'm putting my trust in Citroën, a team I know inside out, and also the DS3 WRC, the car that I helped set up with Citroën Racing."

Frédéric Banzet, the Citroën General Manager, commented: "Sébastien Loeb is a great ambassador for Citroën. Today, his image and ours are intimately linked. He incarnates the daring, sporting spirit and the love of competition, values that are very dear to us. We're proud of his loyalty to Citroën, and of the fact that he's continuing his career with the team that's supported him since his debut."