M-Sport Ford has given Pierre-Louis Loubet a full-time FIA WRC drive in 2023 as he becomes the second driver to be signed by the team.
Pierre-Louis Loubet will drive an M-Sport Ford Puma Rally1 Hybrid on all 13 rounds of next year’s FIA World Rally Championship. Having impressed M-Sport with a brace of top-four finishes plus a handful of stage wins on selected outings in 2022, the British squad has rewarded Loubet with a full-time campaign aboard one of its top-level Pumas next season.
The Frenchman becomes the second driver to be named in M-Sport’s line-up after it was confirmed last week that Ott Tänak will lead the team in 2023. Joining Loubet inside the car is new co-driver Nicolas Gilsoul, who previously guided Hyundai star Thierry Neuville to 13 WRC rally wins and 43 podiums. The pair debuted together on a national rally in France last week and were running as high as second overall before retiring with mechanical issues.
Loubet has previously been clear on his intentions to contest an expanded campaign and admitted the opportunity to drive a full season feels like a dream coming true. “It’s a dream come true for me, something that I have been dreaming about since I was a kid,” he said. “To do my first full season, and to do the main passion in my life every weekend is something truly fantastic.
“The full season takes off a lot of pressure because I know that I have 13 events to give me a chance to show all my potential, and gives me the space to grow and learn. In 2023, my most important goal will be to finish every event, to gain experience and learn to know where I can push and go for maximum speed.
“To be an official driver and scoring manufacturer points for M-Sport is something I have always wanted, I am so pleased that M-Sport is believing in me like this. I’m so pleased to be working with M-Sport again, and to work alongside Ott as team-mates is something very special,” he added.
M-Sport managing director Malcolm Wilson believes that, by working alongside former world champion Tänak, Loubet will be on a fast track to success. “I am very pleased to confirm Pierre-Louis Loubet for a full-time drive at the top level of the WRC with us next year,” Wilson beamed. “I have full confidence in him and feel this year’s performance has shown he has all the ingredients to go far in this sport.
“I am hopeful that working alongside Ott, Pierre will develop and learn in the same way Ott did in 2017 alongside [Sébastien] Ogier.” Team principal Rich Millener added that he hopes to see Loubet achieve a maiden podium: “We have all been impressed with Pierre’s performances this year. He has continuously shown his willingness to learn from and surpass previous experiences and this is what makes him the perfect candidate for a full season.
“He is, of course, still early on in his Rally1 career, and this upcoming season will be pivotal for him. Pierre is a real team player and has quickly become a key member of the M-Sport family, and personally, I’m looking forward to seeing what we will achieve together next year, and I sincerely hope we see him claim a very well-deserved first podium result.”
[Note: The story is as per press release]
Here’s the 2023 WRC calendar