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Fri 04 Feb 2022

Loubet signs up for seven-round Puma programme

M-Sport Ford has added Pierre-Louis Loubet to its FIA World Rally Championship driving roster with a seven-round campaign for the Frenchman in a Puma Rally1.

The 24-year-old will begin his season on asphalt in Croatia in April before tackling a series of gravel events in Portugal, Sardinia and Estonia.

Next up will be either Finland or the championship’s yet-to-be-confirmed round in August, before Loubet completes the year in Greece and Spain.

He becomes the sixth driver on M-Sport Ford’s Rally1 books. Craig Breen, Adrien Fourmaux and Gus Greensmith form the backbone of the squad, with Rallye Monte-Carlo winner Sébastien Loeb and Lorenzo Bertelli also at the wheel for selected events.

Loubet said the deal was ‘a dream come true’ in just his second full season in the WRC’s top tier.

“To be part of the team this year is so amazing. The team showed its performance on Monte-Carlo, the Puma looks like a beast, it’s really great,” he enthused.

“When you are a driver, you want to be in the best car, you want the best possible way to show your potential which is what I need for this season. It’s a crucial season for me and, I know with M-Sport, I will have everything I need to do well.”

Loubet, whose father Yves was European champion in 1989, drove an M-Sport Ford Fiesta R5 in the 2017 WRC2 support series. He made his big breakthrough two years later by winning the title in a Skoda Fabia after victories in Portugal and Italy.

He stepped up to the World Rally Car category but his 2021 season in a Hyundai 2C Compétition-run i20 was marred by mechanical dramas and crashes. He missed the final two rounds after suffering a broken hip in a collision with a car in Paris.

M-Sport managing director Malcolm Wilson said Loubet’s signing was part of the team’s strategy to promote and develop young talent.

“We stayed in contact with him after his season with us in 2017 and he has impressed me a lot since then,” he added. “Winning the 2019 WRC2 Championship is a particularly strong achievement and to go straight into WRC from there is a big step which he has taken in his stride.

“I will be keeping a close eye on his progress throughout this year. We know what the Puma is capable of and I am sure we are going to see Pierre shine with these opportunities.”

Video: Rallye Monte-Carlo - Onboard of the Rally
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