The 2022 FIA World Rally Championship season-opener winner Sébastien Loeb is confirmed to enter for yet another rally as he is set to do the Rally Portugal with M-Sport Ford World Rally Team after their successful Rally1 debut at Rallye Monte-Carlo.
M-Sport revealed on Tuesday that Loeb will be at the start line on 19-22 May, which will be the first proper gravel test for the new Rally1 machines. Isabelle Galmiche, who debuted alongside Loeb in Monte Carlo, will be the co-driver of the nine-time world champion.
Loeb made his fabulous debut in a Ford Puma Rally1 car in January when the he won the rally just ahead of Sebastien Ogier. The Toyota Gazoo Racing driver led the rally even before the last two special stages, but suffered a tire failure in the second to last stage and lost to Loeb.
“Driving the Puma is one of my favourite rally memories; winning Monte Carlo after such a long time was incredible. The team worked really well, with a quick fix to the difficulties we faced at shakedown, allowing us to claim our 80th rally win. From my first test with this car, I immediately had a very good feeling and I enjoy driving with so much power with the hybrid system. It’s a great car, a great team and we celebrated an incredible moment together.” Loeb said.
“Portugal was an empty space in my calendar and it’s a gravel rally, I have competed on this version of the rally in 2019 so I have a base of pacenotes from some of the stages. That was one of the reasons for choosing Portugal, the other was I wanted to do a gravel rally; I like driving on gravel so it was a very straightforward choice.”
“The memories of Monte Carlo still live strong in my mind, and I am sure this is the same for all the team. Personally, to have another chance to work with Seb and Isabelle is a dream come true. The fact that they want to come and drive with us again is something incredibly special for the team and reflects all of the hard work being put in by everybody back home.” Richard Millener, Team Principal, added.
“It is also really important to give special thanks to Ford and Red Bull who have been pivotal in securing the pairing for this event – another example of how our partners are working together to give us the strongest line-up possible for the events in the WRC this season. I am genuinely excited to see what happens on the legendary Portugal stages, and I know the fans will be very excited to see this news and I look forward to seeing their support over the event weekend!”