Sébastien Loeb tested M-Sport Ford World Rally Team’s Puma Hybrid Rally1 car in Spain on Tuesday.
DirtFish understands the nine-time world champion spent the full day driving the all-new 2022 car on asphalt close to Vic.
M-Sport declined to comment on its test program. Craig Breen will take over the Puma test chassis on Wednesday for his first full day of asphalt running.
He will then switch to a gravel-specification car for Friday.
While there is speculation that Loeb has signed a contract with the British-based squad for next season, DirtFish understands that to be wide of the mark.
Understandably, the team will want him in the car for the season-opening Monte Carlo Rally, but such a move would mean he starts the recce for round one just three days after completing the Dakar Rally.
Increased chatter about Loeb closing on his deal adds further weight to thinking that Adrien Fourmaux’s contract is also close.
M-Sport team principal Richard Millener has previously told DirtFish he would be interested to see Loeb working with his fellow Red Bull-backed Frenchman into 2022.