Sebastien Loeb and Daniel Elena: friends for 23 years, but separated due to Dakar

Sebastien Loeb and Daniel Elena
 Daniel Elena and Sebastien Loeb, lavien Duhamel Red Bull Content Pool

Sebastien Loeb and Daniel Elena have been through the fire and water of the World Rally Championship together and have become the most successful driver couple in the history of the WRC: 23 years together, nine championship titles and two podiums in the Dakar. But on 16 March Sebastien Loeb announced that he will continue to pursue his racing dream, but without his old friend, co-driver Daniel Elena. When did the black cat of discord run? 

It is no secret that Loeb was a key figure who influenced Elena’s career. In 1998, young Daniel’s life changed flat-out. Before becoming World Rally Champion, Sebastien took the risk of betting on newcomer Elena and did not lose. So he got the best co-driver and friend into the WRC car at the same time. They have not separated since. 

As a professional in motor sport, it’s hard to find someone to share the time you’ve spent in a rally car, on trips and flights, and even in moments of private life, especially when it comes to the only person. That’s how you can describe their friendship. 
Sebastien Loeb and Daniel Elena
Sebastien Loeb and Daniel Elena Instagram



It’s incredible to think these guys apart: when you open their Twitter posts and Instagram stories, you see they’re always together: Where’s Sebastien – there’s Daniel, where’s Daniel and there’s Sebastien. They have breakfast together, drive race car and spend the night together in a trailer before the tough race.



Sebastien Loeb and Daniel Elena have split up: where is the heart of the matter?

Of course, we do not know everything, because the cameras of the journalists only film the results of the World Rally Championship and too many others remain behind the scenes. It is hard to imagine what is happening now and not believe it. Today, however, Sebastian Loeb, as part of the Prodrive team, is striving to fulfil his oldest dream – winning the Dakar rally. Together with Danielle they have already achieved two podiums, but the coveted first place in this tough race is still somewhere on the racing horizon.

Sebastien Loeb and Daniel Elena
Daniel Elena Flavien Duhamel Red Bull Content Pool

Claim made by Prodrive Team to Daniel Elena: 

According to Prodrive Team, Daniel does not give 100 percent and makes too many mistakes.


“They said ‘Elena doesn’t know how to navigate’, ‘Elena is bad, he loses Loeb too much time’- Daniel Elena to L’Equipe

Claim made by Daniel Elena to Prodrive team

“Your car is not built to win, your team is completely unstructured. You never listened to me, I spent hours with my engineer telling you what to do, what not to do in order for us to try and win a Dakar, to build a solid car” “Your philosophy is simple: we are Prodrive, we are the greatest team in the world, we’ve won everything. But the last thing you won in the WRC was in 2003 with Solberg. Since then, Loeb and Elena arrived on the scene.” – by L’Equipe

But only a month ago, the same L’Equipe published an article about the financial problems of the current co-drivers in the World Rally Championship. In an interview with Daniel Elena, it became clear that there were no misunderstandings with Sebastien Loeb and that nothing could happen between them: neither in any race car – nor outside.

Sebastien Loeb and Daniel Elena
Daniel Elena and Sebastien Loeb Eric Vargiolu DPPI Red Bull Content Pool

When did the black cat of discord run?

“Séb called me shortly before midday today to let me know that he will be continuing his career with another co-driver. He told me that Prodrive requested it, that they found that I was not as motivated, and I made too many navigational errors during the last Dakar.” –  Daniel Elena

It is hard to imagine how much courage it took for Sebastian Loeb to call Daniel Elena. It is impossible to imagine how much self-control it took for Elena to react.

“It is not without a heartache that we will not start the next edition as teammates. It wasn’t an easy decision to make, or the easiest phone call to make after these 23 years, but I have no doubts about your ability to bounce back” –Sebastien Loeb


What should Sebastien Loeb have done?

“We discussed a lot with Prodrive and after analyzing our last outing on the Dakar, we came to the conclusion that it would be best to try something else. I am 47 years-old [and] I’ve not got many more years ahead of me to win the Dakar, so I want to give myself the best chance..”-Sebastien Loeb

Obviously, this decision will affect the relationship between Sebastian Loeb and Daniel Elena. Monegasque is suffering from this conflict in the media because his shortcomings are commented on in the press. Sebastian Loeb, however, has a dream, and to give up his long-cherished desire means to be against himself. 

Furthermore, given his age, he is in a hurry to win the coveted Dakar Rally. Sebastien Loeb, who holds records for victories, points, special stages and podiums in the World Rally Championship, has shown the world just how great he is. But the way the situation in the media regarding Daniel Elena is unsightly, especially from the Prodrive Management side. Therefore, there is no definitive answer here.


Daniel Elena and Sebastien Loeb
Daniel Elena and Sebastien Loeb

Sebastien Loeb and Daniel Elena: unforgivable mistake

Twenty-three years old! It is difficult to find such a person with whom you can really go through anything in life for 23 years! It is a gift of fate. Today, not even marriages based on pure love cross this number. To destroy this friendship and relationship would be an unforgivable mistake.

“Séb, I have nothing against you, I will always be behind you, we will remain mates. You wrote this to me after we left the WRC in 2013 : 
‘I am lucky to have met you’. I also was lucky to meet you and I wish you good luck with your new co-driver.” – Daniel Elena

“Time will tell if it is the right decision. But that doesn’t change my relationship with Daniel” – Sebastien Loeb

For now all that Seastien Loeb has to do is win the Dakar Rally, and if he doesn’t, Daniel Elena will be right with his comments on the situation and the Prodrive team. 


Generally, it doesn’t matter who is right and how to win in the end. The most important thing that time will pass and both Sebastien Loeb and Daniel Elena will remember it together at the family table as another passionate adventure that will only confirm their friendship no matter what. Otherwise, the separation will turn into a fatal flaw.