After winning in Monte Carlo, leading in Portugal and fighting at the front in Kenya, M-Sport Ford’s objective for nine-time World Rally champion Sébastien Loeb this week on Acropolis Rally Greece is clear: try and win.
Loeb has been M-Sport’s strongest performer on the World Rally Championship rounds he has done so far this year.
That win in Monte Carlo, the 80th of his illustrious career, was sensational, while Loeb’s gravel pace in a Puma Rally1 has been similarly strong.
Loeb wasn’t present last year when the WRC returned to Greece and hasn’t done the rally since 2012, but he did win on that occasion.
And the last rough gravel rally he did, Rally Turkey 2019, Loeb scored what many thought may have been his final ever WRC podium.
Loeb and co-driver Isabelle Galmiche return to the team when it’s at a real low point, having endured a really tough Ypres Rally Belgium where all three drivers crashed out.
Victory would be a timely boost for a team that hasn’t graced the WRC podium since June.
Loeb’s chances would appear strong on paper, as he will start Friday’s stages eighth on the road.
When DirtFish put it to M-Sport team principal Richard Millener that with that good road position, Loeb’s objective must surely be to win the Acropolis, Millener agreed: “Yeah. Simple as that really.
“He led in Portugal this year, he set fastest times in Kenya, he won in Monte Carlo, it’s a continuation of where he left off really,” Millener added.
“It’s a real shame he didn’t get the two results in the other two rallies in Kenya and Portugal, but he’s had some good time in the car now.
“He’s tested before Greece, so we go in with the same approach to normal.
“Séb’s a very cool character with no pressure on his shoulders so he just goes to win and we’ll be supporting that as much as we can.”
Loeb’s test was briefly compromised when he slid backwards off the road on a medium-speed right-hander. The car came to rest in between some bushes and was able to be driven back to the service tent.
He’s one of five Puma Rally1 drivers this week, alongside Craig Breen, Gus Greensmith, Pierre-Louis Loubet and Jourdan Serderidis.
Adrien Fourmaux was also supposed to be competing but will only complete the recce instead, as his car wasn’t able to be repaired in time following his final day accident in Belgium two weeks ago.