Pierre-Louis Loubet’s 2023 World Rally Championship was a disappointing stutter in form after his impressive bounceback the year before – but he knows he’s better than that.
Loubet embarked on what was supposed to be a full season in an M-Sport Ford Puma Rally1 at the top of the year, but his year ended one event early with fellow Frenchman Adrien Fourmaux taking his place for next week’s Rally Japan.
That was a decision Loubet revealed was agreed two months ago at Acropolis Rally Greece, when he retired on the road section to Friday’s first stage.
“We decided with the team that it was better to stop at this point,” Loubet told DirtFish.
There were some peaks throughout the year, including leading Rally of Portugal after the opening stage and running third in Sardinia before mechanical trouble struck, but Loubet never finished higher than sixth (recorded in Sweden and Estonia) and will finish the year outside the top 10 in the championship.
The 26-year-old has made his share of driver errors, most notably in Finland where he ran wide and struck a tree but also in Portugal where a small mistake lost him his rear wheel.
But he has borne the brunt of a lot of unfortunate circumstances such as mechanical misfortune and a change in co-driver with Benjamin Veillas replacing Nicolas Gilsoul for Central European Rally.
With a smoother season, Loubet is sure he can perform much better in the future.
Loubet’s 2023 results:
“Yeah, yeah very difficult [season],” Loubet admitted.
“I hope next year I will have a little bit more luck, that everything will go a bit more on my way.
“[The plan now is to] have a bit of rest, to try to do a reset on the mindset because it’s been very tough and we will see.
“But I really want to do it again because I think we didn’t show enough in terms of result about our potential, and I’m sure if I have everything in my head and everything around me to do, I can do it.
“I know [I can do it], I just need to have everything on my way.”
Loubet’s future is uncertain, but his target is to remain in a Rally1 car in 2024.
“Yeah, yeah, this is the target,” he said.
“We will see what it is possible to do. I’m not the only one who knows what will be the WRC future so let’s see.
“I hope I will be able to be in Rally1 next year.”
Whether Veillas will join him remains to be seen. Loubet described his collaboration with the 45-year-old as positive, but confessed his agreement with Veillas “was really for this rally”.
Loubet said: “The fact that I knew that it was my last race of the season, I didn’t want to take a young guy for only one race, so I think Benjamin was a good choice.
“We will see for the future but yeah, it was really for this rally.
“We will see [if we work together in the future], but it’s been a good rally.”