The door remains open for Sebastien Loeb to make a sensational World Rally Championship return following M-Sport’s decision to hold two entries open for next month’s Monte Carlo Rally.
DirtFish understands negotiations between the team, Loeb, and his long-term backer Red Bull are ongoing through the weekend in the hope of resolution early next week.
A statement by the Monte Carlo Rally organizer confirmed the M-Sport entries.
Two Ford Puma Rally1 Hybrids are for Craig Breen and Gus Greensmith and it’s a very fair assumption the other two are planned for Loeb and Adrien Fournaux.
M-Sport declined to comment on its plans for January’s season opener.
The three Rally1 manufacturers will between them enter 11 cars for the first event of the WRC’s hybrid era, part of a 75-car capacity entry.
The list also confirms that Oliver Solberg will begin the season in the third Hyundai i20 N Rally1 that he will share with Dani Sordo.
In total 18 cars are on the WRC2 entry, with defending champion Andreas Mikkelsen driving a Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo for Toksport, though the identity of his co-driver was not revealed.
Mikkelsen will be joined at Toksport by Nikolay Gryazin, also in a Škoda – which was one of three different brands he drove in the WRC2 division in 2021.
Freddy Loix is another headline entrant in the secondary division, on what will be his first outing in the WRC since 2004. The 11-time Ypres Rally winner will also be driving a Škoda, which will be co-driven by Pieter Tsojen.
Three Ford Fiesta Rally3s have been announced in the rebranded WRC3 category, with reigning JWRC champion Sami Pajari among them.
Pajari said he is there to gather experience, as “final decisions on the 2022 program will be made and announced after Monte, that is, the Rallye Monte-Carlo is not part of the prize package we won”.