Pierre-Louis Loubet will compete with Nicolas Gilsoul in France this weekend, with a view to working with him in next year’s World Rally Championship.
Loubet has resurrected his WRC career with M-Sport in 2022 after a reputation-damaging spell in a 2C Competition Hyundai.
He won a stage and led a rally for the first time and scored two fourth place finishes in Sardinia and Greece respectively.
Those results were achieved alongside long-term navigator Vincent Landais, but with Landais teaming up with Sébastien Ogier at Toyota for 2023, Loubet is in need of a co-driver.
Gilsoul hasn’t competed at the top of the WRC since Monza Rally 2020 as on the eve of the 2021 Monte Carlo Rally, he and Thierry Neuville sensationally split – leading to Martijn Wydaeghe being drafted in at the 11th hour.
Aside from competing on Sanremo, Gilsoul took a year out last season but has returned in 2022 to guide Gino Bux to second overall in this year’s Belgian Rally Championship.
Just after that deal was announced in February, he told DirtFish: “I don’t want to focus only on the WRC with a bad plan with the wrong car and not the proper package, for me it’s not interesting because I’m sure I will be frustrated, and this is not what I’m looking for.
“When you are young you are happy, and you are impressed already when you are wearing the shirt of the factory team. I’m not impressed anymore by that, I need to be happy, to feel happy how I’m working, why I’m working and to want to give the maximum.
“I’m not focusing on being with a factory team if the team is not at the level, there is no interest.”
But working with Loubet could be a project that motivates him, as the 25-year-old is a driver on the up and, although it’s not been confirmed, is widely expected to remain part of the M-Sport lineup next year.
In a statement, Loubet said he was “waiting for the announcement” of his exact WRC program. He is known to want to do a full season.
Loubet and Gilsoul will compete in a Ford Fiesta Rally2 on this weekend’s Rallye National Hivernal du Dévoluy as a trial run to see if the partnership works.
Loubet described it as “a perfect opportunity to keep pace during the off season but also to be able to test myself with Nicolas Gilsoul for a possible collaboration in 2023”.