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( release, 26/4/2013)  NINE-time champion Sebastien Loeb will make a return to the FIA World Rally Championship at Philips LED Rally Argentina, which starts on 1 May.

After missing the last two rounds in Mexico and Portugal, the return of the reigning world champion is one of the highlights of an entry list that features 13 World Rally Car crews.

Loeb has chosen Argentina as one of the handful of rallies he will tackle this season as he bows out of the WRC after a record-breaking nine world titles.

Less than a fortnight after driving a McLaren MP4-12C sports car at a FIA GT Series race in Belgium, the Frenchman will be back at the wheel of the number 1 DS3 World Rally Car for the Citroen Total Abu Dhabi team. Mikko Hirvonen will drive the French team’s second car. Dani Sordo will drive a third DS3 for the Abu Dhabi Citroen Total team.

After his recent win in Portugal, championship leader Sebastien Ogier will return in his Volkswagen Motorsport team Polo R WRC, with team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala in an identical car. Andreas Mikkelsen will drive a third Polo R for the Volkswagen Motorsport II team.

Qatar M-Sport team-mates Mads Ostberg and Evgeny Novikov head the Ford runners, with Thierry Neuville also in an M-Sport Fiesta RS for the Qatar World Rally Team.

Martin Prokop will represent the Jipocar Czech National team in his Fiesta RS, while Brazilian Daniel Oliveira will make his 2013 WRC debut in another Fiesta RS, run by Stohl racing.

LOTOS team driver Michael Kosciuszko will be at the wheel of his Motorsport Italia-prepared Mini JCW World Rally Car. Long-time P-WRC competitor Gabriel Pozzo from Argentina was to have driven a second Mini, but made a late switch to an M-Sport Ford Fiesta RS.

The rally has also attracted nine entries in the FIA WRC-2 championship, including the winner in Mexico, Fiesta RRC driver Abdulazis A-Kuwari.

Production Cup leader Nicolas Fuchs also returns in his Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX, the Peruvian fresh from winning the production category in Mexico and Portugal.

Philips LED Rally Argentina kicks off on Wednesday 1 May with the Qualifying stage in the morning and the Super Especial Parque Termatico in the afternoon.

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Chris Nixon

Chris Nixon is Media Manager for Kennards Hire Rally Australia.

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