Loeb signs Ford to return to World Rally Championship – CVBJ
Act. At 5:10 p.m. CET
Sebastien loeb , the most successful driver in WRC history, with nine crowns, will reappear in the World Championship driving a Ford Puma Hybrid 1 during the first round of the 2022 calendar, the Monte-Carlo Rally, from 20 to January 23, after participating in the Dakar with BRX. This Tuesday the M-Sport Ford team formalized its agreement with the 47-year-old French champion, as well as the registration for the entire season of the Frenchman as well. Adrien Fourmaux, 26 years.
Loeb, who left the World Rally Championship with a last sporadic appearance at Rally Turkey 2020 and finished third on the podium, has tested the Ford Puma Hybrid 1 several times in recent weeks, so his move to M-Sport was a secret with voices. The (partial) program he will lead on his return to the championship is not finalized, but he will continue as a mentor to the drivers of the team, which has Craig Breen, Gus Greensmith and the young Fourmaux.
At the moment, at the start of Monte-Carlo, which has won seven times, Loeb will meet two other winners of the legendary rally: the Belgian Thierry Neuville and French Sebastian Ogier, who won his eighth world title this year and has given up on tying his compatriot’s record for nine crowns, because he will not compete in all the tests next year and will thus sign a gradual retirement at 38.
“It’s nice to work with M-Sport, it’s a very professional team and they know how to build good cars,” Loeb said in the M-Sport statement. “I am happy to work with them. Since the start of my career I fought against Ford, but I always knew that Malcolm is someone very involved in the team and passionate about rallying, we have always had a good relationship. I am very excited for Monte Carlo. It’s really an exciting challenge, ”added the Frenchman, who was once Citroën’s flagship in the WRC and after his farewell to the World Championship in 2012, he took part in a few rallies with Hyundai.
“It was a pleasure to discover the new technology in the Puma Rally1 cars, I think it is quite similar to the 2017 cars, but with an additional hybrid system. It makes it more difficult to use and it is exciting to have something new to handle inside the car. When I tested the car I was very impressed with its balance and power with the hybrid, I really enjoyed it “, adds Loeb, who after breaking up with his long-time co-pilot Daniel Elena, with whom he was not part of his Dakar adventure, he will be accompanied to Monte-Carlo by the co-pilot Isabelle Galmiche.
For his part, team boss Malcom Wilson confessed that “I was about to make a deal with Loeb in 2005, but unfortunately at that point we couldn’t finalize it. However, with the arrival of the new Rally1 regulations for 2022, and following discussions with Red Bull, we have both reached out to Seb to see if he might be interested in testing the new cars. He was, he did and now we can say he will join the team next year. It’s great to be able to bring M-Sport to a dedicated rider, and I have no doubt that he is able to deliver a fantastic result, while being a great mentor to our other riders. It may have taken us over 16 years to bring this agreement to fruition. but it’s wonderful to see it finally happen. “