July 1, 2022

Loeb and Fourmaux with M-Sport at the start of the Monte-Carlo Rally

A start to the season that looks like a passing baton. French fans feared a great void after Sébastien Ogier’s announcement to cease his full-time involvement in rallying after conquering his eighth world championship title last month, the next Monte-Carlo (January 20-23) will have on the contrary, what to fill them. Three French drivers will indeed be at the start of this first round of the 2022 season at the wheel of the new generation of hybrid cars, the Rally1, which will make their first laps for the occasion.

While Sébastien Ogier has long included Monte-Carlo in the partial program of a few rounds that he will complete with Toyota, M-Sport announces this Tuesday that Adrien Fourmaux and Sébastien Loeb will be at the wheel of the Ford Puma.

At almost 48 years old (he will have them in February) and more than eight years after hanging up for the first time at the end of the Rallye d’Alsace 2013, the nine-time Alsatian world champion never stops coming back to the WRC. . After occasional appearances with Citroën (Monte-Carlo 2015 then three events in 2018) then under the colors of Hyundai (eight races between 2019 and 2020), Sébastien Loeb will this time discover M-Sport on the occasion of the next Monte-Carlo , an event he has won seven times.

“I like what I do elsewhere, but participating in a WRC rally gives me incredible sensations”

“It’s a really exciting challenge, comments the Alsatian, who has already driven the Ford Puma Hybrid Rally1 on several test sessions. The car is similar to the previous generation of WRC but with this hybrid system in addition. It makes the car a bit more complicated to drive and it’s nice to have an additional parameter to deal with. When I tested the car I was really impressed with its balance and the power that hybridization brings. I really enjoyed it. “

“I came very close to recruiting him in 2005 but unfortunately it was not done, recalls Malcolm Wilson, the boss of M-Sport. I am sure he is still capable of posting a fantastic result and that he will be a mentor for our other drivers. It may have taken over sixteen years for this agreement to become a reality, but it’s great to see it finally come to fruition! “

Even if the possibility of seeing the Alsatian at the start of other rounds of the 2022 Championship is real thanks to the support of Red Bull, the Monte-Carlo is for the moment a draw without a future.

« I like what I do elsewhere (he is entered in Extreme E and Dakar with Prodrive), but participating in a WRC rally gives me incredible sensations, continues Loeb, who will be co-piloted by Isabelle Galmiche, her legendary teammate Daniel Elena having decided to retire from sports. It’s something that explodes me and I think I can still be in the game even if the Monte-Carlo, with its tricky conditions, is not the easiest race to discover a new team. I have good memories of this rally, where there is always an incredible atmosphere. “

Fourmaux confirmed as official M-Sport driver

If Sébastien Loeb’s career is obviously behind him, Adrien Fourmaux, on the other hand, has good years ahead of him. As expected, the 26-year-old Northerner is confirmed as the official M-Sport rider for the entire season, alongside Irishman Craig Breen (31) and Briton Gus Greensmith (24).

Fourmaux was the revelation of the 2021 season when, for his WRC debut on a Ford Fiesta WRC from the M-Sport team, he showed good consistency with six finishes in points (including two fifth places in Croatia and Kenya) in eight rallies. The top speed is also at the rendezvous since the winner of Rallye Jeunes in 2016 and French junior champion 2018 signed a scratch time in the Kenya rally.

Founded by Malcolm Wilson, the boss of M-Sport, Fourmaux participated fully in the development of the Puma. “An entire season awaits me with the Ford Puma Hybrid Rally 1 which is a treat to drive, comments Fourmaux in a press release released by M-Sport. I’m very proud of it, it’s a very meaningful moment for me when I remember that I discovered rallying with the Fiesta R2 in 2017. For my sixth season in rallying, I can’t wait to compete at the most. high level under the colors of M-Sport Ford and Red Bull Motorsport and to make proud all the people who believed in me and who still believe in me. “

The Ford Puma Hybrid Rally1 driven by Sébastien Loeb and Adrien Fourmaux. (M-Sport.)

“Having the chance to work with Seb Loeb is something I never thought possible, says Richard Millener, the M-Sport Team Principal. Another fantastic news is the confirmation that Adrien will be racing with us for a full season. Adrien is a motivated and exciting driver and I am really happy that he now has a full season to be able to prove to us what he is capable of and demonstrate the development of what has been a very short career so far at the highest level. . “