Saluting Sebastien Loeb: what next for Daniel Elena?
Surrounded by his fans in France, Sebastien Loeb was constantly bombarded with questions about his future plans: how many rallies will he be doing? And which ones?
The answer is at least two (Monte-Carlo and France) and probably up to five, but few people have put the same question to Daniel Elena (right): the most successful co-driver in the history of the FIA World Rally Championship, with nine titles to his name following his victory with Loeb on Rallye de France Alsace at the weekend.
Elena is not planning on co-driving for anybody other than Loeb next year, but that doesn’t mean that it will be a quiet year for the Monegasque world champion. As well as occupying the right-hand seat in the number one Citroen DS3 WRC (which will be curiously absent on most rounds next year) he is busy with his management and events company, All Sports Management, based in Monaco.
One of the drivers the company looks after is Sebastien Chardonnet, who finished a highly impressive 10th in France on his first try with Citroen’s DS3 WRC on a world championship rally. While the plan is for the 23-year-old to step up his programme next year, Elena won’t be taking over from Chardonnet’s regular co-driver, Thibault de la Haye.
“Sebastien has his co-driver, who is very good,” said Elena. “There’s only one Sebastien I will be co-driving for next year - and that is Loeb!”
Instead, if we see Elena in a rally car more often next year, it will be behind the wheel. He actually started off his competition career as a driver rather than a co-driver, taking part on Rallye Monte-Carlo for the first time in 1997. He even owns his own Citroen DS3 R3T, but his world championship commitments have prevented him from driving it as much as he would like.
“It could be fun to do some driving, but with my management company I think I will be quite busy,” said Elena. “In the end, I understand Sebastien’s decision completely: particularly with all the things like the testing and the travel, which gets a bit boring for him.”
Next year, Elena will have more time on his hands, and while he’ll certainly miss regular competition, he always knew that this day would come sooner or later, so he’s well-prepared. A new chapter opens up now for Daniel Elena - but his place in the history books is already assured.