Loeb WRC Monte Carlo deal will be “difficult” says M-Sport team boss

M-Sport team principal Richard Millener says it will be difficult to secure a deal to allow Sebastien Loeb to contest next month’s World Rally Championship opener in Monte Carlo.

Loeb WRC Monte Carlo deal will be “difficult” says M-Sport team boss

The Ford squad is continuing to push to reach an agreement with the nine-time world champion, who claimed an 80th career win and record equalling eighth triumph at the famous asphalt rally this year.

Loeb enjoyed a partial WRC campaign with M-Sport this season which he dovetailed around successful campaigns in the World Rally-Raid Championship and Extreme E.

PLUS: Ranking the top 10 WRC drivers of 2022

During the season the Frenchman led three of the four WRC rallies he contested behind the wheel of the Ford Puma, proving a valuable member of the team.

Last week M-Sport confirmed the first of its drivers for 2023 with the high profile signing of 2019 world champion Ott Tanak, but the reminder of its line-up is yet to be announced.

Millener confirmed to Autosport that the team would like to add Loeb to their ranks for 2023, but only if it doesn’t stretch the squad’s resources too thinly. Entries for next year’s Monte Carlo Rally are set to close on Friday.

Loeb did however return to the cockpit of the Puma last weekend when he took part in a demonstration at the Red Bull Racing Formula 1 team’s title celebration event in Milton Keynes.

“Obviously we would like to have Seb in the car but I think that is going to be difficult for Monte Carlo, but we won't stop trying,” Millener told Autosport.

“At the moment we have to put all our resources into Ott and that is where we have got to be realistic.

“It will be a funding thing,” Millener replied, when asked about the negotiations with Loeb. “To have two drivers at the top level that come with reasonable but big price tags.

 

Photo by: McKlein / Motorsport Images

“There is no point pushing ourselves too hard. If we are going to go for a championship with one person then we have already clearly said that is going to be Ott and that is where we have got to start strongly.

“As much as we want Seb in the car and love to have him in the team, we have to find the opportunities where we are able to do that with the correct resource.”

Loubet in the frame for M-Sport drive

Pierre-Louis Loubet remains firmly in contention to secure a Rally1 deal with the team for 2023 following his impressive partial campaign this year.

The 25-year-old emerged as the WRC’s surprise package during a seven-round programme with the Ford squad.

Loubet notched up his first WRC stages wins and led a rally for the first time on merit in Greece, before going on to finish fourth, one of two fourth place finishes in 2022, that eclipsed his previous best WRC result of seventh.

Last weekend Loubet contested Rallye National Hivernal du Devoluy, a local rally in France alongside Thierry Neuville’s former co-driver Nicolas Gilsoul. Loubet is considering partnering with Gilsoul after long-time co-driver Vincent Landais’ decision to team up with eight-time world champion Sebastien Ogier next year.

“Pierre-Louis is doing a rally [last weekend] with Nicolas Gilsoul so he is keen to see what the relationship can be like between them with Vincent Landais going to work with Seb [Ogier],” added Millener.

“It would be great to have Pierre-Louis back in the team. He is not stopping his rallying at the moment but there is no official news yet as to what programme he will have next year."

Millener also confirmed that discussions with Gus Greensmith are expected to commence this week “to understand what we can do with him for the season”, while it appears Adrien Fourmaux could be set for a Rally2 programme next year.

Oliver Solberg has also been linked to a Rally1 drive with M-Sport although the Swede is also working on plans for a Rally2 programme as a back-up.

shares
comments

Related video

Rovanpera expects bigger WRC title challenge after Tanak’s M-Sport switch
Previous article

Rovanpera expects bigger WRC title challenge after Tanak’s M-Sport switch

Next article

Tanak: M-Sport has everything to challenge for WRC title

Tanak: M-Sport has everything to challenge for WRC title
Why Monte Carlo success could spark another past master’s WRC revival Plus

Why Monte Carlo success could spark another past master’s WRC revival

Some 39 years on from his Monte Carlo Rally debut, World Rally Championship legend Francois Delecour continues to pick up silverware. Proving that age is purely a number, the 60-year-old's desire to compete against the WRC’s latest young talents could be the start of a new chapter in the Frenchman’s storied career

WRC
Jan 31, 2023
How fired-up Ogier became the WRC's ultimate Monte master Plus

How fired-up Ogier became the WRC's ultimate Monte master

He may only be contesting a part-time campaign in the World Rally Championship these days, but Sebastien Ogier underlined that he's lost none of his speed in the 2023 season opener. Storming to yet another victory on the Monte Carlo Rally, the eight-time world champion rewrote the history books again as Toyota served notice of its intentions with a crushing 1-2

WRC
Jan 23, 2023
How Lancia pulled off its famous Monte Carlo giantkilling Plus

How Lancia pulled off its famous Monte Carlo giantkilling

Audi should have been invincible in the snowy conditions that typically greeted the World Rally Championship paddock in Monte Carlo. But unexpectedly warm weather for the 1983 season opener, combined with some left-field thinking from the Lancia crew turned the tables. Forty years on, team boss Cesare Fiorio reflects on a smash and grab

WRC
Jan 21, 2023
Why M-Sport has pinned all its efforts on a WRC reunion Plus

Why M-Sport has pinned all its efforts on a WRC reunion

M-Sport had a disastrous 2022 with its Rally1 Ford Pumas following Sebastien Loeb’s first-time-out win on the Monte. But now things are looking up with 2019 world champion Ott Tanak leading its attack, and the Cumbrian operation has optimism that it can challenge for a first title since Sebastien Ogier's departure at the end of 2018

WRC
Jan 19, 2023
The contenders seeking to take Rovanpera's WRC crown Plus

The contenders seeking to take Rovanpera's WRC crown

As Kalle Rovanpera begins his World Rally Championship title defence in Monte Carlo, the Finn knows he has a target on his back. But who is best placed to knock the Toyota ace off his perch?

WRC
Jan 19, 2023
Why Rovanpera is anticipating a fight to defend his WRC title Plus

Why Rovanpera is anticipating a fight to defend his WRC title

Question: what could be harder than becoming the youngest-ever World Rally champion? Answer: becoming the youngest-ever two-time World Rally champion. That's quite the challenge facing Toyota's Kalle Rovanpera in 2022, particularly against rejuvenated opposition in the second year of the WRC's hybrid regulations

WRC
Jan 18, 2023
From F1 to WRC: Why Hyundai's new boss could be an inspired signing Plus

From F1 to WRC: Why Hyundai's new boss could be an inspired signing

OPINION: New Hyundai WRC team boss Cyril Abiteboul admits he’s got a lot to learn as he leads the marque's efforts to dethrone Toyota. But could his Formula 1 experience and evident strengths mean he turns out to be an inspired choice?

WRC
Jan 18, 2023
The ultimate rally car project the WRC is glad COVID killed Plus

The ultimate rally car project the WRC is glad COVID killed

Toyota was unstoppable in the 2021 World Rally Championship, with an excellent 75% strike rate from 12 rallies. But in a scary proposition for its rivals, the Japanese marque had built a car for the final year of the previous regulations set which it believes was much faster and could feasibly have crushed the opposition completely. Here the story of its mothballed world-beater

WRC
Jan 1, 2023