The family Monte misfortune in Hyundai’s new star’s mind

Ahead of his first outing on the Monte in a WRC car, Pierre-Louis Loubet turned to father Yves for some valuable advice


Pierre-Louis Loubet has a mountain to climb this week. Fortunately for him, he can rely on the advice of somebody who knows a thing or two about plotting a rapid route through the French Alps. His father, Yves.

Forty years on from Yves Loubet’s Monte Carlo Rally debut aboard a Ford Escort RS2000, his 23-year-old son will start the event for the first time.

Comparing the cars is pointless, Pierre-Louis’ 2C-run Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC probably has more tech today than Boeing’s prototype 767 which flew for the first time in 1981.

But the roads are the same. And fickle Monte conditions remain as capricious this week as they have ever been.

880116MC Loubet 02 ctp

Photo: McKlein Image Database

Loubet Jr has been competing for the last five years, but this week will be among the biggest moments for a driver who has already lifted the WRC2 title.

“Monte is the big one,” Loubet told DirtFish. “For a driver from France, this is definitely true.”

And for a Corsican?

“For Corsican guys like me, [that rally is] also very special – but Monte Carlo is the ultimate rally. I know I have a lot to learn this week and I know it can be a really complicated rally.

“I am lucky to have my father to talk to. We talk a lot about the Monte. He always told me it was the biggest one for him.”

And, frustratingly for Yves, he came close to a famous Monte victory seven years on from his debut.

Back in the days when Lancia tailored its team to the terrain, Frenchmen Loubet and Bruno Saby were equipped with a pair of Martini-liveried Delta HF 4x4s for the 1988 event. In all honesty, the competition from outside the Italian manufacturer was slight, but still there was an all-French race to be won.

The pair were neck and neck, with Loubet having just narrowed his rival’s advantage with fastest time over Sisteron, when he went off the road.

“My father never seemed to have any luck with this rally,” said Loubet Jr. “I hope I can have more luck.”

Has there been any advice?

“Sure,” Loubet Jr grins. “He told me that when I see the ice coming then I have to slow to go across it at 10kph. I will do that.”

Loubet’s aware of his step into the deep end this week, which is why is expectations are realistic.

“It’s the minimum to be in the top-10,” he said, “this has to be the way; there are only 10 World Rally Cars! I had a good test, we did a lot of work with the tires. I was crossing the tires and trying to understand how the car is working with different set-ups.

“It looks like the weather will be quite complicated and this is what I want. Of course, to learn the car on these roads, it’s easier to do it with the dry Tarmac, but if you’re going to the Monte then you want a real Monte Carlo and that has the ice, the snow and the sunshine. This is all part of the picture and all part of the reason I’m going there to learn.”