M-Sport announces Loeb WRC comeback, Fourmaux retained

Sebastien Loeb will make a World Rally Championship comeback next year with M-Sport Ford, while fellow countryman Adrien Fourmaux has been retained by the British squad.

M-Sport announces Loeb WRC comeback, Fourmaux retained

Nine-time world champion, Loeb, has been heavily linked to a return to the WRC having tested M-Sport's new Rally1 Puma hybrid twice in Spain and France in October and November respectively.

Talks between Loeb, sponsors and the team have been ongoing for months before a deal was finally reached to allow the 47-year-old to pilot a fourth Puma for next month's season opener.

At this stage the Frenchman is only confirmed to contest the Monte Carlo Rally season opener where he will line up against Toyota's eight-time world champion Sebastien Ogier.

Loeb last contested a full-time WRC campaign in 2012 with Citroen, but has made semi-regular outings in the intervening years with the French manufacturer and subsequently with Hyundai, taking his record-extending 79th WRC victory on the 2018 Rally Spain.

Next year will mark Loeb's first WRC event since last year's Rally Turkey, where he finished third in a part-time drive for Hyundai.

"It's nice to work with M-Sport, it is a very professional team and one that knows how to build good cars," said Loeb.

"Since the beginning of my career I was fighting against Ford but I have always known [boss] Malcolm [Wilson] to be somebody very involved in the team and passionate about rally, we have always had a good relationship.

"I am really excited for Monte Carlo, it is really an exciting challenge."

M-Sport boss Malcolm Wilson added: "Starting the new WRC regulations with such a strong line-up is something I am very proud of and goes to show the faith that these guys have in the new Puma Rally1."

Sebastien Loeb testing the M-Sport Ford WRC car

Sebastien Loeb testing the M-Sport Ford WRC car

Photo by: M-Sport

In order for this deal to happen Loeb has been released from a contract with Prodrive, whom he has been competing in the Dakar Rally and Extreme E this year and in 2022.

"We agreed with Seb that he would benefit from a few more competitive drives in the WRC and that this will ultimately help his Dakar and Extreme E campaigns," said David Richards, Prodrive chairman.

"Seb is an amazing talent who has lost none of that competitive spirit and must be one of the favourites to win Dakar in January.

"He has shown in Extreme E that he still has the raw pace, frequently setting the fastest times and I have no doubt he has the potential to be fighting for wins in the WRC next year."

Fourmaux secures full season drive

Fourmaux was widely expected to continue with the team for next year having played a key role in the development of the new Puma hybrid designed to compete under the WRC's new Rally1 regulations.

The 26-year-old has enjoyed a rapid rise to the WRC, making his full debut in rallying's top flight last year, scoring a fifth on debut at Rally Croatia in April.

Fourmaux initially joined the team last year, competing in WRC2 before embarking on a split WRC2/WRC campaign last year, sharing the Ford Fiesta with Teemu Suninen.

Following Suninen's departure, Fourmaux was handed the seat and contested eight of the 12 rounds, scoring three top six finishes and a stage win in June's Safari Rally.

"An entire season is waiting for me with the M-Sport Ford Puma Hybrid Rally 1 which is a pleasure to drive," said Fourmaux. "I am so proud of this, it is a very significant moment for me when I remember that I discovered rallying with the M-Sport Fiesta R2J back in 2017.

"For my sixth season in rallying I am really looking forward to competing at the highest level in M-Sport Ford and Red Bull Motorsport colours, and make all the people who believed in me and still believe in me proud."

He will join the already confirmed Craig Breen and Gus Greensmith for what will be a three car attack on the full championship.

Ford Puma Rally1, Adrien Fourmaux

Ford Puma Rally1, Adrien Fourmaux

Photo by: Ford

WRC 2022 Driver line-up so far

Toyota
Elfyn Evans
Kalle Rovanpera
Sebastien Ogier/Esapekka Lappi
Takamoto Katsuta

Hyundai
Thierry Neuville
Ott Tanak
Oliver Solberg/Dani Sordo

M-Sport Ford
Craig Breen
Gus Greensmith
Adrien Fourmaux
Sebastien Loeb (Monte Carlo)

shares
comments

Related video

Sulayem: Two and a half manufacturers in WRC is not enough
Previous article

Sulayem: Two and a half manufacturers in WRC is not enough

Next article

Ranking the top 10 WRC drivers of 2021

Ranking the top 10 WRC drivers of 2021
Load comments
The WRC star that's earned the right to lead M-Sport's revival Prime

The WRC star that's earned the right to lead M-Sport's revival

Part-time opportunities with Citroen and Hyundai have offered brief glimpses of what Craig Breen can do in a World Rally Championship car. Now signed up by M-Sport to lead it into the WRC's new hybrid era, Breen has been given the chance he's pursued for so long and is determined to make the most of it

WRC
14 h
Why the WRC's 'modern Group B' era was rallying at its bonkers best Prime

Why the WRC's 'modern Group B' era was rallying at its bonkers best

The World Rally Championship has brought down the curtain on the aggressive, aero-laden generation of cars first introduced in 2017 that have been likened to the 1980s Group B icons. As the championship prepares to begin a new era of Rally1 hybrid cars, its stars explain just why the outgoing machines were so special

WRC
Dec 24, 2021
Ranking the top 10 WRC drivers of 2021 Prime

Ranking the top 10 WRC drivers of 2021

On the eve of a new hybrid era for the World Rally Championship, the 2021 season was a blockbuster fought out between Toyota's two top dogs, with a familiar figure eventually emerging on top after a final showdown at Monza. We pick out the 10 best performers from the top class and its supporting cast

WRC
Dec 21, 2021
Why Ogier's WRC swansong was a season to savour Prime

Why Ogier's WRC swansong was a season to savour

He’s shuffling into semi-rally-retirement, but Toyota star Sebastien Ogier was at the peak of his powers in the final season for the high downforce era-World Rally Championship cars. Despite Toyota's domination, there was still much to enjoy as the old master emerged atop a fierce title fight against teammate Elfyn Evans.

WRC
Dec 19, 2021
How WRC legend Ogier will be remembered by his peers Prime

How WRC legend Ogier will be remembered by his peers

After winning his eighth WRC title, Sebastien Ogier has drawn the curtain on his full-time rallying career. To understand Ogier's legacy, many of his former rivals, team-mates and colleagues have shared their thoughts on a vastly successful career

WRC
Nov 26, 2021
Ranking lost WRC legend Richard Burns' 10 best rallies Prime

Ranking lost WRC legend Richard Burns' 10 best rallies

Richard Burns was a determined driver who took on the best rally drivers in the world during a boom period in the early 2000s, and beat them. On the 20th anniversary of his crowning glory in winning the 2001 WRC title, and 16 years on from his death on the same date, we pick out his 10 greatest drives

WRC
Nov 25, 2021
The internal focus that made Burns a legendary world rally champion Prime

The internal focus that made Burns a legendary world rally champion

At the turn of the millennium, WRC was full to the brim with rallying's great and good - and 20 years ago on this day, Richard Burns became England's first world rally champion. Although Burns' natural talent drove him to the top, his steely determination and mental strength was the key attribute behind his title-winning form

WRC
Nov 25, 2021
How Ogier emerged from Loeb's shadow to form his own WRC legend Prime

How Ogier emerged from Loeb's shadow to form his own WRC legend

OPINION: Adding an eighth WRC title to his name, Sebastien Ogier has bowed out from full-time rallying in style. Having been compared throughout his career with nine-time champion Sebastien Loeb, Ogier has convincingly demonstrated that he can stand on his own as one of the greatest rally drivers in history

WRC
Nov 22, 2021