Pierre-Louis Loubet believes his World Rally Championship career is ‘finally’ underway now following his debut M-Sport appearance on the Croatia Rally.
Loubet, the 2019 WRC2 champion, moved up into a World Rally Car in 2020 with 2C Compétition but recorded only two points finishes in two years, due to a combination of driving mistakes and his Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC not being as developed as the factory cars.
A road traffic accident in Paris last September ruled Loubet out of the rest of the season and he ultimately wouldn’t compete for 2C again, instead signing with M-Sport Ford for a seven-round campaign in 2022 with a Puma Rally1.
Croatia was the first of those events and although Loubet missed out on a good result due to three punctures on the first two stages, he did set his first-ever top three WRC stage time and felt the experience driving a factory-spec car offered him clarity on the years before.
“I am happy that after two years where I struggled so hard, it’s good to have the feeling back,” Loubet told DirtFish. “And after seven months at home with my issue it’s good to feel comfortable.
“Everybody knows my Hyundai car was not a factory one. In WRC it’s something I understand now; if you don’t have everything you can’t compete.
“Last year I was sometimes two seconds per kilometer behind and I didn’t know why. I was pushing and this year I didn’t push more. Honestly, I’m not just saying that. I didn’t push more.
“But it’s not the fault of the team [2C], it’s like that. Now we are in a good situation and I am very lucky with what I have and I have a nice package to finally start my WRC career.”
Loubet will drive one of five Puma Rally1s on Rally Portugal later this month, alongside Craig Breen, Gus Greensmith, Adrien Fourmaux and Sébastien Loeb.
He hasn’t yet driven the car on gravel but he’s quick to point out that “it was the same on Tarmac” before Croatia.
“Everyone said here you need to drive the car. But if the car feels great, OK, to find the last thing like the top guys doing now you need to drive the car. But if your car is strong normally you can have the feeling immediately,” Loubet explained.
“We have a good road position [11th] and I always felt good there so I hope we will be able to do some good things.”