Friday | 18 Mar 2022

Loubet back behind the wheel for debut in Puma

Pierre-Louis Loubet returns from injury to drive M-Sport Ford’s Puma Rally1 for the first time in a competitive setting in Belgium on Saturday.

The 25-year-old Frenchman will be a course car at the South Belgian Rally. He will use the asphalt event as preparation for the first of seven FIA World Rally Championship outings with the British squad at next month’s Croatia Rally (21 - 24 April).

Loubet has been out of action after suffering a broken hip in a traffic accident in Paris in October last year. The injury brought an early end to a disappointing season in a Hyundai 2C Compétition-run i20 World Rally Car.

Loubet will also be reunited with co-driver Vincent Landais at the second round of the Belgian Championship. The pair split in April last year but Loubet confirmed in February they would be back together for the 2022 campaign.

“Last year we had a lot of pressure and everybody started to say ‘look, this is a problem or that is a problem’,” Loubet told WRC.com. “I think in a moment under the pressure, I changed Vincent and it was a very, very big mistake.”

“I’m really happy to be back with Vincent and to do my first rally with M-Sport is a great, great day, it’s almost like a birthday. I’m looking forward to working with everybody and being in a good condition after the rally to do some good things in Croatia.”

Loubet completed a shakedown in the Puma on Thursday and M-Sport Ford team principal Richard Millener promised his first time at the wheel would be an ‘exciting weekend’.

“Doing this event means he has the opportunity to learn the car and its procedures so that when he has his official pre-event test he can really focus on understanding the various set-up directions for Croatia Rally,” he said.

The car driven by Loubet was victorious at Belgium’s Rallye de Hanut last weekend in the hands of Jourdan Serderidis.

Also lining up at the Vresse-sur-Semois event are former Citroën works driver Stéphane Lefebvre, fellow WRC2 contender Grégoire Munster and ex-Formula 1 racer Jos Verstappen, father of reigning champion Max.

The rally comprises three loops of four stages covering 150.42km.

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