“I don’t know,” responded Pierre-Louis Loubet when asked what his next target in the World Rally Championship is.
And can you really blame him given how much he’s been able to achieve so soon into his M-Sport Ford career?
Drivers are bullish beasts. If they didn’t believe in themselves, they wouldn’t be sacrificing so much in the pursuit to call themselves world champion.
But there were times last year where Loubet began to doubt himself. That soul crushing, reputation destroying run in an out-of-date 2C Competition Hyundai last year took its toll. Naturally, he started to wonder if it was him. Could he really do it?
This season has quashed those fears. Emphatically.
For all of Kalle Rovanperä’s brilliance and that sensational Sébastien Loeb win on the Monte Carlo Rally, if you were to hold a debate right now as to who the driver of the 2022 season has been, Loubet’s name has to at the very least be in the conversation.
Given so little was expected of him, his performances in Portugal and Sardinia in particular have been extraordinary.
In Portugal Loubet had flirted with the top three places, but in Italy he was right up there from the off – third after the first proper gravel stage and within the top four for all of the remaining 19 stages bar one.
“I’m very happy about the weekend,” Loubet told DirtFish.
“And from the beginning with the team everything is fine and I enjoy [driving] a lot in this car. For sure to have a good result like this, after only one race on gravel, it’s amazing.
“I saw in Portugal we had a good pace, so I knew it was possible with our road position and on Thursday to do good things. But yeah for sure, you never know if it’s possible to be good and I’m very proud of what we’ve done with everybody.”
His result of fourth overall bettered his previous career best WRC finish by three and provides Loubet with a very realistic aim of achieving a podium at some point throughout the 2022 season.
Even if he doesn’t see it that way.
“We were close to the podium [in Italy] because if you see Dani [Sordo] had a problem in the last stage and he’d been lucky, and [Ott] Tänak on Friday, so I think the podium was really possible but we don’t need to think about it,” he said.
“I just want to continue like this, and if it comes it comes, I just try to do my best.”
Instead of putting a figure on it so to speak, Loubet just wants to keep building his speed.
“Yeah, yeah. That’s it, sure,” he said.
His next opportunities to do that will be on the ultra-fast Rally Estonia and Rally Finland, as Safari Rally Kenya isn’t part of Loubet’s seven-round calendar.
“Now we will come on a rally I love, Estonia, Finland, I’ve always been not so bad in R5 there,” Loubet added.
“So let’s see.”