Back in the day, the Monte Carlo Rally was always about the race to the sunshine on the other side of the French Alps. That’s exactly what next week represents for Pierre-Louis Loubet.
The Monaco-based season opener isn’t an event the M-Sport Ford World Rally Team star is relishing. It’s one he aims to survive, before setting about the rest of the calendar and a selection of events he understands a little more.
“It will be tough for me,” Loubet told DirtFish. “This will be the first time on this event in the Puma and I know it’s going to be tricky with things like finding the ice on the wrong tire, blah, blah, blah. I know it’s a big step.
“For me the test was nice. I found a good way with the car, I feel ready to push from the start with the car – we have some very, very good engineers with M-Sport and they made me feel really comfortable and confident with the car. And they understand what I need from the car.
“But Monte’s not like anything in the rest of the year. The feeling from this rally is not the same – we know the conditions can be really difficult.
“It would be nice to have the dry weather and consistent grip, but maybe this is not always the way. My experience in Monte is small. Let’s see. If I feel comfortable, maybe I can push a little bit harder.
“It’s a rally where we have to be clever. It’s an endurance rally where we have to be humble.
“After Monte then I will feel more free and I feel I can manage everything else that’s coming for the rest of the season.”
And he’ll be managing the rest of the season alongside Ott Tänak. The pair worked together for the first time at the test earlier this week.
“I talked to Ott about the setup and his philosophy with the car,” said Loubet. “But when he is working, I don’t want to be the guy who is asking too many questions – I want to leave him to get on with his job.
“If we have time, for sure, we speak.”
Tänak’s advice for Loubet?
“I would say the best help for him is for him to just follow up and keep the eyes and ears open,” he said.
“He’s a young lad, obviously. He has a great talent but he is very fresh still on that level so hopefully he can do a consistent year.”