M-Sport: Loeb WRC 2022 return talks ongoing

M-Sport has confirmed there are “plenty of talks” ongoing with World Rally Championship legend Sebastien Loeb regarding a possible return next year.

M-Sport: Loeb WRC 2022 return talks ongoing

Nine-time WRC champion Loeb last contested a full-time WRC campaign in 2012 with Citroen, but has made semi-regular outings in the intervening years with the French manufacturer and subsequently with Hyundai, taking his record-extending 79th WRC victory on the 2018 Rally Spain.

He has been heavily linked to a part-time WRC comeback with M-Sport for several months, with speculation increasing after the Frenchman completed a test in the squad’s 2022 Rally1 hybrid Ford Puma following last month’s Rally Spain.

M-Sport is continuing to work on the project that theoretically could see 47-year-old Loeb line-up for the season opening Monte Carlo Rally, marking his first WRC event since last year’s Rally Turkey, where he finished third in a part-time drive for Hyundai.

The team has so far only announced new signing Craig Breen for next season’s move to hybrid Rally1 regulations, although it is expected Adrien Fourmaux and Gus Greensmith will retain their seats. The addition of Loeb, a title challenger in Extreme E this year for the Prodrive-run X44 team, could see the British team field a fourth part-time Puma entry.

M-Sport team principal Richard Millener said prior to this weekend’s season-ending Rally Monza that discussions are continuing with Loeb for next year, but are yet to reach a conclusion.

“There are plenty of talks but not much to talk about at the moment,” said Millener.

“It is something we are still working on obviously, but unfortunately not in a position to say anything official about it.”

Ford Puma WRC Rally1

Ford Puma WRC Rally1

Photo by: WRC.com

Asked if the talks with Loeb have held up the confirmation of its two full-time seats alongside Breen, Millener added: “We are in no real rush to announce too much we have got a bit of time to decide how we do it best. We have got an event this week and we have got a bit of time left.

“We will announce what we can, but we do have a bit of time still.”

The prospect of Loeb perhaps returning to the WRC for next year’s Monte Carlo Rally could set up tantalising repeat of a head-to-head with the event’s record eight-time winner Sebastien Ogier.

Monte Carlo is set to be one of a handful of rallies Ogier will contest with Toyota next year following his WRC full-time retirement at the end of this weekend’s season finale.

“It has always been nice fighting him during my career and it does bring such an attention to the event which can only be good for the sport,” Ogier told Autosport, when asked about the prospect of Loeb competing in the 2022 Monte Carlo Rally.

“I can say in this way I will enjoy to have the chance to fight him one more time, but we also know that even when he is coming back it is not like it used to be a couple of years ago when it was definitely going to be a fight between the two of us. Now we have a couple of more drivers joining the show.”

shares
comments

Related video

Ogier: WRC title fight has kept a lid on full-time career end emotions
Previous article

Ogier: WRC title fight has kept a lid on full-time career end emotions

Next article

How confronting self-doubt drove Ogier to become a WRC legend

How confronting self-doubt drove Ogier to become a WRC legend
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
1 h
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
How a Toyota lifeline reignited Lappi's WRC career Plus

How a Toyota lifeline reignited Lappi's WRC career

Motorsport can be brutal at times. One moment a driver can be the next big thing, but it can spiral in the other direction so quickly. Thankfully, sometimes drivers receive second chances. And Esapekka Lappi has taken his World Rally Championship lifeline in both hands

WRC
Sep 28, 2022