Loeb set for Dakar return with Prodrive-run Bahrain team
Sebastien Loeb is set to compete in the 2021 Dakar Rally with the Prodrive-run Bahrain Raid Xtreme team, Motorsport.com has learned.
The nine-time World Rally champion will be announced as teammate to Nani Roma for his return to the famous rally raid, which takes place in Saudi Arabia in January.
Loeb, 46, will again be paired with long-time co-driver Daniel Elena as he has been for his four previous Dakar starts, all of which have been at the wheel of Peugeot machinery.
The Frenchman has now concluded his programme in the 2020 WRC season for Hyundai, which was ultimately reduced to just two events by the COVID-19 pandemic, freeing him up to join the Bahrain Raid Xtreme team's October test in the Middle East.
Prior to that, Roma - confirmed as the squad's first driver earlier this month - is carrying out initial testing with the BRX T1 4x4 prototype in the UK this week.
Loeb made his Dakar debut in 2016 with the official Peugeot team and went on to fight for victory until the end with Stephane Peterhansel in the 2017 edition, placing second. In 2019 he raced a Peugeot 3008 DKR run by PH Sport after the departure of the French manufacturer, placing third, but sat out the 2020 edition.
While a Dakar return is certain, Loeb's future in the WRC remains unclear, as his agreement with Hyundai has concluded and it is not clear if he will continue in 2021.
Sources told Motorsport.com that the Frenchman was in discussions earlier this year with Toyota about driving one of the Japanese manufacturer's factory Hilux entries for the Dakar, but a mutually satisfactory agreement couldn't be reached.
The project with Toyota could have resulted in a part-time WRC schedule for Loeb too.
Sébastien Loeb, Daniel Elena, Hyundai Motorsport Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC
Photo by: McKlein / Motorsport Images
Roma joins Prodrive-run Bahrain squad for Dakar
Loeb joins Prodrive-run Bahrain team for Dakar return