Seven-time World Rally champion co-driver Daniel Elena says the changes to the regulations in the World Rally Championship are what kept Sebastien Loeb in the sport.
It was announced at the June meeting of the World Motor Sport Council that the start order on gravel rallies would be decided by shakedown times on the opening day. For days two and three, the leading drivers will run in reverse order, meaning the championship leader will no longer be disadvantaged by having to sweep the loose gravel clear by running first on the road on the opening day.
This year's championship leader from round two onward, Loeb has been critical of the way he has been slowed on virtually all gravel rallies this season, while those behind him took a tactical approach to find the best place on the road. Elena, who has co-driven with Loeb throughout their professional careers, is adamant the WMSC decision played a significant part in Loeb's decision to stay in the WRC until 2013.
"The running order has been a disaster this year," said Elena. "This has been the hardest year for running at the front of the field and cleaning the road. [Changing this regulation] has been very important in his decision to continue.
"If it stayed the same, I'm sure he would have stopped. He was very angry, we couldn't carry on like this. It's easy for the others, they have the best cleaner of the road; all the time they can just fall back, back, back and let us go ahead."
On the eve of Rallye Deutschland, round nine of the championship, Loeb leads by 27 points from Ford's Mikko Hirvonen. The Frenchman is chasing his ninth straight win in Trier this week.