M-Sport did place two of its cars in the top 5 at the finish of the Acropolis Rally, but at the end of this tenth round of the season the disappointment really outweighed the disappointment. The English team probably had what it takes to go for a podium result or even a win by the evening of stage one if we stick to the classification.
There, Sébastien Loeb and Pierre-Louis Loubet, after winning all of the specials played on Friday, actually led the Greek event and seemed untouchable. But things only got worse from there, the Alsatian having to give up the liaison shortly after SS8 after a broken alternator belt on his Ford Puma, while the Corsican lost all hope of a top 3 finish in the following stage due to a puncture, before failing to brake on SS11 .
A real heartbreak for Loubet, who signed his first two WRC scratches on Friday and was a time leader at the event, first falling back to seventh place before patiently reclaiming some of the lost ground to finish the race at the foot of the podium to equal his best result in the category (he had already finished fourth in Sardinia).
The 25-year-old Frenchman, who was absent from the previous round of the Ypres Rally, impressed with his ability to get back into rhythm instantly and displayed an Olympic calm throughout the various misfortunes attributed to the ‘Rally of the Gods’. Upon arrival, the person concerned did not seem overly disappointed with the outcome of the event. “What a weekend! I’m still digesting everything I learned on Friday and I think I’ll be making the film for a while.”he smiled, cherishing his fleeting struggle with his childhood hero.
It’s a privilege to be on the same team as Loeb now
Pierre Louis Loubet
“It’s a shame because of the puncture on Saturday, but getting my first stages and even leading the rally against Seb is something I’ll never forget. I was watching Seb [à la télévision] when I was a little boy and to be on the same team as him now is a privilege.”
Present in the ranks of M-Sport for his fourth freelancer of the season, given the short time span between the Acropolis Rally and that of New Zealand, which will take place in less than three weeks, Loeb does not remain the possibility of a fresh start and presents a logistical challenge for the teams to ensure proper delivery of equipment to the antipodes.
The nine-time world champion has nonetheless proved he’s still in good shape at 48, with no fewer than five scratches won in the first eight stages and a pace that makes his recent opponents pale in color. Unfortunately for him, the Rally Portugal and Safari Rally scenario repeated itself again, with a retirement in a key position and an opportunity taken to finish on top (he led in Portugal and developed into the top 5 in Kenya). time of his retirement from the race).
“Friday was a very good day, it was good to get back in the car and we clearly had the pace to finish in a good position.”he admitted. “I haven’t been to this rally for quite a while so it’s good to come back and see that I’m still fast! The conditions were quite difficult in places, but I enjoyed the challenge.”
Loeb also wanted to acknowledge the remarkable performance of his compatriot and teammate, with whom he crossed blades on stage one. “It’s a shame we didn’t get through, but it was nice to face Pierre-Louis. He did a fantastic job and we can be proud of himself.”
As in Portugal and Kenya, Loeb was forced to retire when he appeared capable of a result by choice in Greece.
Cougar Skills Confirmed
At M-Sport we therefore vacillate between disappointment at not having achieved a result commensurate with the team’s abilities this weekend and relief at having once again proven that the Ford Puma Rally1 is a machine that aims for first place can . “We have shown that we are there to fight with the others and that we are more than capable of fighting for victory.”started the manager of the English team, Richard Millener.
“Loeb is just fantastic and Pierre-Louis was the star of the rally. Admittedly we didn’t get the results we wanted but it was a tough weekend for everyone involved.”he continues before acknowledging with great fairness the performance of Hyundai, author of his first hat-trick in the WRC this weekend. “Congratulations to Hyundai on a masterful rally drive. They fully deserved this result but we will fight again in New Zealand and we are determined to prove we can win.”
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