Fri 06 May 2022

Injury-hit Loubet relishes career reboot

Pierre-Louis Loubet couldn’t be more excited about the season ahead after returning to top-flight action for the first time since September in Croatia last month.

Out of FIA World Rally Championship action since breaking his pelvis in a collision with a car in Paris last September, the Frenchman switched from Hyundai to M-Sport Ford this year following a disappointing 2021 campaign.

He was impressed with his Ford Puma Rally1 on his first competitive outing with the squad at the Croatia Rally and is now looking forward to his gravel debut in the car at this month’s Vodafone Rally de Portugal (19 - 22 May).

“I’m really happy to be back,” said Loubet. “It was difficult for this seven months at home, but now I really feel like I am back. I’m also happy that I feel really comfortable with the car.

“With M-Sport, I know I have everything I need to compete. The situation is a good one and I feel lucky to have everything in place for a good season.”

The 25-year-old retired from the first morning of Croatian action with three punctures, but returned to set impressive stage times across the Zagreb weekend.

The Matosinhos-based event will be Loubet’s seventh Portuguese start on a rally where he has shone regularly in the past.

On his first appearance in 2015 he finished second in the FIA Junior category and won WRC2 in a Skoda Fabia R5 three seasons ago.

“We should start there in a good place on the road and Portugal is a rally where I always felt good,” he added.

“I don’t have so much experience with the car for the gravel, but I didn’t have for the Tarmac and the times in Croatia were strong. Yes, you need to drive and spend time in the car, but if the car is strong – like the Puma – then you can have that feeling quickly.”

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