Deal with Loeb WRC Monte Carlo will be “difficult”, says M-Sport team boss

The Ford team continues to push for a deal with the nine-time world champion, who claimed his 80th career win and eighth win at this year’s famous tarmac rally.

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

MORE: Ranking of 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 himself 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 its line-up reminder has yet to be announced.

Millener confirmed to Autosport that the team would like to add Loeb to its ranks for 2023, but only if he doesn’t strain the team’s resources too much. Entries for next year’s Monte Carlo Rally will close on Friday.

However, Loeb returned to the Puma cockpit 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 it’s 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 to be realistic.

“It will be a matter of financing,” Millener replied, when asked about the negotiations with Loeb. “Having two drivers in the top tier that come with reasonable but high price tags.

Photo by: McKlein/Motorsport Images

“There is no point in trying too hard. If we’re going to go for a championship with one person, we’ve already made it clear that it’s going to be Ott and that’s where we have to start strong.

“As much as we want Seb in the car and we love having him in the team, we have to find the opportunities where we can do it with the right resource.”

Loubet in the box for M-Sport drive

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

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

Loubet took his first WRC stage victories and led a rally for the first time in his own right in Greece, before finishing fourth, one of two fourth places in 2022, which eclipsed his previous best WRC result of seventh.

Last weekend, Loubet contested the Rallye National Hivernal du Devoluy, a local rally in France alongside former Thierry Neuville co-driver Nicolas Gilsoul. Loubet is considering a partnership with Gilsoul following co-driver Vincent Landais’s 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 eager to see how the relationship between them can be with Vincent Landais who is going to work with Seb [Ogier]Miller added.

“It would be great to have Pierre-Louis back in the team. At the moment he does not stop at rallies, but there is still no official news about what program he will have next year.”

Millener also confirmed that talks with Gus Greensmith are expected to start this week “to understand what we can do with him during the season”, while it looks like Adrien Fourmaux could be ready for a Rally2 program next year.

Oliver Solberg has also been linked to a Rally1 unit with M-Sport, although the Swede is also working on plans for a Rally2 program as a backup.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *