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WRC Monte Carlo: Loubet crashes out after being caught out by ice

Pierre-Louis Loubet has become the first Rally1 retirement of the World Rally Championship season following a crash on Stage 9 in Monte Carlo. 

Pierre-Louis Loubet, Nicolas Gilsoul, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team Ford Puma Rally1

Pierre-Louis Loubet, Nicolas Gilsoul, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team Ford Puma Rally1

McKlein / Motorsport Images

The M-Sport driver was caught out by an ice patch on the final corner of the Le Fugeret - Thorame-Haute stage, the first test of the Saturday morning loop.

Loubet’s Ford Puma slid wide after hitting the ice while crossing a bridge that marked the end of the 16.8km stage. The right-rear corner of the car clouted the barriers causing significant damage as it bent the right rear wheel and suspension components.

The Frenchman was able to change a damaged rare link arm following the stage but a broken hub bracket has put him out for the day, with only a remote tyre fitting zone, to compete minor repairs, separating the morning and afternoon loops today. 

"We will quickly have to recharge the batteries to return to form tomorrow and try to aim for a few points during the Power Stage," said Loubet on social media.

The retirement comes following a heroic drive on Friday that saw Loubet complete the final three stages without power steering. 

Loubet had been sitting in seventh before Stage 5 when he ran off the road. It us unclear if the moment was caused by a power steering failure or the steering problem occurred as a result of the off at a tight hairpin left.

Without a midday service in the schedule to undertake repairs, Loubet elected to bravely carry on without the steering assistance on Monte Carlo’s twisty roads. 

 

Stage 9 was won by world champion Kalle Rovanpera as the Finn chalked top his second stage win of the rally despite being not overly happy with his performance.

"It was not a good stage for me, I could have done better," said Rovanpera. "It was clean but it was not the driving that I want to do."

Rovanpera was 0.6s faster than Toyota team-mate Elfyn Evans while rally leader Sebastien Ogier elected to drive without risk, posting the third fastest time.

"We tried to drive safely. It was definitely not full speed for us at the moment but we want to stay safe,” said Ogier. 

Ogier’s rally lead was reduced to 33.5s over Rovanpera, with Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville 4.6s further back in third overall. 

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