M-Sport Ford World Rally Team driver Pierre-Louis Loubet will test an RX1-specification rallycross car for the first time next week, sampling a DA Racing-prepared Peugeot 208 WRX at the Lohéac circuit in northwestern France.
Loubet, who scored a World Rally Championship career-best fourth place on Rally Italy earlier this season, has competed for DA Racing in the past in the Tropheé Andros ice racing series, where he replaced Romain Grosjean in its lineup in January this year.
Now Loubet joins Oliver Solberg in getting behind the wheel of an RX1-spec rallycross car this season, albeit at a closed test rather than in open competition.
“I don’t have much experience of rallycross, I know that it’s a very intense sprint discipline with cars made in the spirit of WRC, but totally bulked up with aerodynamics and two-liter turbos and 600hp,” said Loubet.
“It’s an extraordinary category with undoubtedly the most spectacular cars. The creation of the world championship in 2014 was a big boost to the category and I discovered that the races were pretty competitive.”
Precedent for WRC drivers migrating to rallycross and succeeding is strong. Petter Solberg won the first two seasons of the World Rallycross Championship aboard his self-run Citroën DS3, while nine-time World Rally champion Sébastien Loeb was a round winner while driving for Peugeot.
The younger Solberg also won the opening round of European Rallycross this year, only to be penalized for running an overweight car.
For Loubet, the test is ostensibly a one-off outing in between WRC rounds, but he stated that the short-sharp nature of rallycross has caught his eye lately.
“The close quarter battles are always something unique, with different trajectories into the corners and late braking. It’s a discipline which has piqued my interest more and more,” Loubet added.
“Driving an RX1 car seems similar to a WRC, with similar dimensions, and I really can’t wait to get aboard the DA Racing 208 RX1 at Lohéac.”
Loubet jokingly suggested he’d have to be careful given the car’s history as a title contender in the hands of Jean-Baptiste Dubourg in Euro RX – and is still being driven competitively by DA Racing this year.
“I’m a bit afraid of tasting a forbidden fruit but I want to sincerely thank Dominique Dubourg and the entire DA Racing team for this nice invitation.”