The Ford M-Sport team is pleased to announce that Sébastien Loeb will once again be driving a Ford Puma Hybrid Rally1 M-Sport at the Rally de Portugal in May. After a fantastic debut with the M-Sport Ford World Rally Team at the Monte Carlo stage in January, M-Sport can confirm that Loeb and co-driver Isabelle Galmiche will join M-Sport to complete the five Ford Puma Hybrid Rally1 team that will start in Portugal.
Sébastien Loeb, the most successful rally driver of all time, returned to the FIA WRC in Monte Carlo in January and won six special stages throughout the stage, fighting for victory against Sebastien Ogier before winning the overall in the first stage of the 2022 season.
After a spectacular start to the year, with a second-place finish in Dakar and a winner in the first stage of the WRC, Loeb will take part in the famous locations in the area of Porto in Portugal. Loeb's co-driver is Isabelle Galmiche, the first woman to record a victory in the WRC overall since 1997. For her, the success in Monte Carlo is a special one given the fact that she was at the first official appearance together with Loeb.
The Rally de Portugal marks a milestone for the M-Sport Ford World Rally, which will become the first team ever to be present with 5 Rally1 cars in the same event. It is an exciting opportunity for a team that has exceptionally talented pilots.
Loeb's return coincides with the 50th anniversary of the FIA WRC. A series of activities are planned over the weekend in Portugal to celebrate 50 years of epic action on the world's most challenging stages and surfaces.
The history of the legendary French driver at the Rally de Portugal dates back to 2007 when he managed to win right at his debut, after securing first place in 11 of 18 special stages. He won the Rally again in 2009 and had numerous podium appearances and 32 memorable event victories.
Sebastien Loeb declared:
"Being at the wheel of Ford Puma is one of my favorite memories of my rallying career - winning at Monte Carlo has been incredible. The team worked very well, with quick fixes in the difficult times we faced in shakedown, allowing me to win the 80th Rally in the WRC. From my first test with the Ford Puma Hybrid Rally. Thanks to the hybrid system, I immediately felt excellent, and I like to drive with so much power. It's a great car, a great team, and we celebrated an incredible moment together."
"The period in which the Portuguese Rally takes place was free in my calendar and is a macadam rally, in a configuration that I competed in 2019, so I have a database of information about some special events. This was one of the reasons I chose Portugal, and the other was because I wanted to do a macadam rally. I like to fly macadam, so it was a straightforward choice. "
Rich Millener, the team's director, announced:
"The memories of Monte Carlo are still alive in my mind, and I'm sure this is happening to the whole team. Personally, having another chance to work with Seb and Isabelle is a dream. The fact that they want to come and fly with us again is something incredible for the team and reflects all the hard work done during this period.
It is also imperative to thank Ford and Red Bull. They have played a key role in ensuring that this team is present for Portugal - another example of how our partners work together to provide us with the strongest team possible for the WRC stages this season. I'm excited to see what happens during the legendary special rehearsals in Portugal, and I know fans will be thrilled to see this news.
I look forward to seeing their support this weekend!"
Malcolm Wilson, Managing Director, told:
"Everything was made possible by our outstanding partners from Ford and Red Bull, and I can't wait to see how Seb and Ford Puma Hybrid Rally1 behave in the first stage of this year's macadam. It's great to have such a strong presence, and I'm very proud that M-Sport Ford will be the first team to bring five top cars to a WRC event. This shows how attractive these Rally1 cars, especially Ford Puma, are to drivers, and we hope to continue to push the limits of this sport."