M-Sport focus on Rally New Zealand after “deflating” Acropolis

M-Sport has confirmed Sebastien Loeb won’t rejoin the Acropolis Rally given the tight turnaround to ensure its cars are prepared in time for Rally New Zealand.

M-Sport focus on Rally New Zealand after “deflating” Acropolis

The Ford squad appeared set to challenge for a second win of the World Rally Championship season with nine-time world champion and 2022 Monte Carlo winner Loeb leading team-mate Pierre-Louis Loubet, after the pair shared the spoils in Friday’s six stages.

However, the team’s victory and podium hopes unravelled on Saturday as four of its five cars hit trouble during the day’s six stages.

Loeb retired from the lead due to an alternator failure after Stage 8 while Loubet dropped to seventh after suffering a front left puncture in Stage 9.

Gus Greensmith started the day in sixth but joined the retirement list due to yet-to-be diagnosed mechanical issue that grounded his Puma on Stage 11. Moments before Greensmith’s issue, privateer runner Jourdan Serderidis was ruled out of the event with a terminal hybrid issue on the road section.

Greensmith’s demise did allow the recovering Loubet to climb to fifth overall ahead of team-mate Craig Breen, who suffered a puncture on Friday, which cost the Irishman two minutes.

Team principal Richard Millener admitted witnessing the collapse of a strong position for the team was “deflating” as the team’s run of misfortune continued.

“It is deflating what has happened to us this weekend but we remain positive and we know we can do it, and we proved that yesterday, but today was not our day,” said Millener.

He added: “It is just disappointing for the team. I feel so sorry for the everyone who has put in so much hard work. Seb was keeping the spirits alive and we will continue.

“We are determined not to let our heads drop about anything. It is just really upsetting for everyone who has put so much effort into it and to have it taken away so cruelly after what was a fantastic stage time from Seb this morning. I think we could have had a comfortable lead to be honest.”

Sebastien Loeb, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team

Sebastien Loeb, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team

Photo by: McKlein / Motorsport Images

Millener also confirmed that entries for Loeb and Serderidis won’t return for Sunday’s final three stages to ease the pressure on the team, as it bids to prepare for Pumas next week for the trip to New Zealand (29 September-2 October).

“It is difficult for them [Seb and Jourdan] to achieve so much tomorrow. Again we have a very tight turnaround to New Zealand so the guys and girls will only have three or four days in the workshop so I think we have got to take the priority for Seb.

“Unfortunately when you can’t win the rally, which is what we were trying to achieve, it is not quite the same. And for Jourdan, as a privateer opening the road is tricky and he decided for three stages, and after a tough weekend, not to restart.

“The option was there for both of them, but with little to fight for it made sense to go with that.”

shares
comments
Tanak not expecting Neuville to move over to help WRC title bid
Previous article

Tanak not expecting Neuville to move over to help WRC title bid

Next article

WRC Acropolis Rally: Neuville closes on win as Hyundai deploys team orders

WRC Acropolis Rally: Neuville closes on win as Hyundai deploys team orders
How Toyota transformed an F1 hopeful into a factory WRC driver Plus

How Toyota transformed an F1 hopeful into a factory WRC driver

Having originally started out in karting and single-seaters to follow his dream of making it to Formula 1, Takamoto Katsuta's career instead changed course into the world of rallying. A breakthrough 2022 WRC season has lifted Katsuta into Toyota's factory line-up - but it's been a long road to the top level

WRC
21 h
Ranking the top 10 WRC drivers of 2022 Plus

Ranking the top 10 WRC drivers of 2022

The World Rally Championship welcomed in a new hybrid era in 2022, presenting an unknown challenge to the planet's top rally aces. New records were broken, as Toyota's leading charge became the youngest-ever title-winner, while familiar returning faces mixed it up with the new generation. Autosport picks out the 10 best performers from the year

WRC
Dec 5, 2022
The key steps on Rovanpera's romp to a history-making WRC title Plus

The key steps on Rovanpera's romp to a history-making WRC title

With only cameo roles played by legendary Sebastiens Ogier and Loeb, Kalle Rovanpera ushered in the new hybrid era for the World Rally Championship by becoming its youngest champion. Here's how Toyota's Flying Finn crushed the competition, led by Hyundai's departing star Ott Tanak

WRC
Dec 1, 2022
How trailblazer Kalle Rovanpera has ripped up the WRC record book Plus

How trailblazer Kalle Rovanpera has ripped up the WRC record book

At the tender age of 22, Kalle Rovanpera is redefining what’s possible to achieve in rallying and inspiring a new legion of fans as a result. The newly-crowned World Rally Championship title-winner and his peers reflect on his ability and the start of his success in the top tier

WRC
Nov 26, 2022
How Hyundai and Neuville gatecrashed Toyota's homecoming party Plus

How Hyundai and Neuville gatecrashed Toyota's homecoming party

Thierry Neuville signed off the 2022 World Rally Championship season with his second win of the season in Japan after Toyota rival Elfyn Evans suffered a late puncture. With Sebastien Ogier and Kalle Rovanpera also delayed by punctures and incidents, it opened the door for Neuville and Ott Tanak to record Hyundai's second 1-2 of the season in Toyota's own backyard

WRC
Nov 14, 2022
The message a WRC stalwart sent which its new king couldn’t answer Plus

The message a WRC stalwart sent which its new king couldn’t answer

Sebastien Ogier might be the outgoing World Rally champion, but it didn’t stop him reminding everyone of the skills that made him an eight-time world champion. As victory at Rally Spain led Toyota’s charge to a titles clean sweep, it did pose a question to newly-crowned champion Kalle Rovanpera which he could not answer

WRC
Oct 24, 2022
Autosport gets to grips as a WRC co-driver Plus

Autosport gets to grips as a WRC co-driver

The majority of headlines may focus on the exploits of drivers in the World Rally Championship, but the challenges facing their co-drivers are no less demanding. Autosport got in the passenger seat with Toyota Gazoo Racing to find out just what it takes to succeed

WRC
Oct 6, 2022
How Rally New Zealand encapsulated record-breaking Rovanpera’s WRC title charge Plus

How Rally New Zealand encapsulated record-breaking Rovanpera’s WRC title charge

Kalle Rovanpera’s coronation as the new World Rally Championship king had been a long time coming, only to be postponed by hiccups in Belgium and Greece. But at Rally New Zealand the “Full Send” Finn demonstrated exactly how he's been able to rewrite the rallying record book as he stormed to victory to become the youngest ever world champion

WRC
Oct 3, 2022