M-Sport signs Loubet to seven-round 2022 WRC programme

M-Sport has signed 2019 WRC2 champion Pierre-Louis Loubet to pilot a fourth Ford Puma Rally1 as part of a seven-round World Rally Championship programme.

Sébastien Loeb, Isabelle Galmiche, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team Ford Puma Rally1

The 24-year-old is set to return to rallying’s top tier with the British squad following a series of appearances for Hyundai customer team 2C Competition across 2020 and 2021.

Loubet’s last top flight WRC outing came at the Acropolis Rally in Greece last September, before an entry in October’s Rally Spain was withdrawn due to a broken hip suffered after being hit by a car in a road traffic accident.

His best results to date are a pair of seventh place finishes achieved in Sardinia in 2020 and Estonia last year.

The Frenchman’s programme will begin with April’s Rally Croatia ahead of visits to Portugal (19-22 May), Sardinia (2-5 June), Estonia (14-17 July), Finland (4-7 August) or the TBC round (18-21 August), Greece (8-11 September) and Spain (20-23 October).

Loubet is no stranger to the M-Sport team having contested a WRC2 campaign for the squad in 2017, before going on to lift the WRC2 crown in 2019 driving a privately-run Skoda.

“To be part of the team this year is so amazing,” said Loubet, who won’t be eligible to score manufacturers’ championship points.

“The team showed its performance on Monte Carlo, the Puma looks like a beast, it’s really great. 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.

“It’s a bit of a dream come true, every driver wants to be in the best car in his career, it’s happening for me now in just my second full season of WRC.”

Loubet has top-flight experience with customer 2C Hyundai, scoring a best finish of seventh

Loubet has top-flight experience with customer 2C Hyundai, scoring a best finish of seventh

Photo by: Romain Thuillier / Hyundai Motorsport

Loubet's signing confirms M-Sport will field at least four entries in the majority of the 13-round WRC calendar, having started the season in Monte Carlo fielding Pumas for Craig Breen, Gus Greensmith, Adrien Fourmaux and nine-time WRC champion Sebastien Loeb, who won last month’s opener.

Italy’s Lorenzo Bertelli has been confirmed to drive the fourth entry at Rally Sweden at the end of the month.

M-Sport is continuing to hold talks to secure Loeb’s services for further rounds this season. If the team continue to field four cars this season, it would appear June’s Safari Rally, September’s visit to New Zealand and November’s Japan season finale are the events it is targeting for Loeb.

Neither of these rallies clash with Loeb’s other commitments in Extreme E or the World Rally Raid Championship with Prodrive.

M-Sport boss Malcolm Wilson says Loubet has impressed the team since leaving the operation in 2017 and is keen to see how he will fare driving the Puma.

“Promoting and developing young talent has always been a core element of M-Sport’s WRC programmes and Pierre joining us at the top level is another example of that,” said Wilson.

"We stayed in contact with him after his season with us in 2017 and he has impressed me a lot since then. 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.”

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