After some very difficult rallies, M-Sport was able to rely on its two French drivers entering the Acropolis Rally to emerge again.
Full box! This is what M-Sport achieved this Friday at the event of the first stage of the Acropolis Rally. The English design, in bad shape (and in bad shape) these last rounds, seems at last to see the light at the end of the tunnel thanks to its two French pilots stationed in Greece, viz. Sebastien Loeb and Pierre Louis Loubetwho won all the stages contested today.
This evening, only 1.7 separates the two teammates, with the advantage for Loeb who regained the lead in the Bauxites, the very last stage of the day. He doesn’t seem to have lost his rhythm, even if a little panic temporarily affected his performance level in the middle.
“It’s been a long day”recognized the nine-time World Champion on the microphone of the official WRC website, who got four out of six possible scratches today. “We started well before making a mistake in the fourth stage of the day. [l’ES5, Dafni]. Afterwards it was difficult to be aggressive again, but I still told myself that I had to attack as hard as possible. The feeling was good again, and I was able to achieve better times [dans l’ES7, Bauxites] to take the lead again, but the war is very near, and still nothing is done.”
Loeb has a strong relationship with Loubet, who temporarily took over the leadership of the rally after signing his WRC debut at Dafni. A level of performance that we didn’t necessarily expect from the Corsican, who skipped the previous event in Belgium and also had to get back into the boat, which is more demanding on a circuit like the Acropolis Rally. “I was surprised by Pierre-Louis”continues Loeb, who salutes the hard work put in by his partner of almost 23 years who is his junior. “She was very fast and had a great day. I didn’t expect her to be so fast, she gave birth.”
The key to Loubet’s performance today will probably be found in his demeanor, with an unobstructed view at the wheel of his Ford Puma in all six stages of the day. In addition to being happy, the deceased also seemed relaxed this evening answering questions from the official WRC website. “I like to be in front [rires] !”so he launched in jest. “You know, in Portugal I was already very comfortable in the car, but if you want to continue you have to spend time behind the wheel. It’s only my first season in a WRC car, so I’m improving my level of awareness. , and I manage to be close to the limit now. [Demain] I will try to continue like this. If only I could be sure to do the same [qu’aujourd’hui]I would sign immediately.”
A good situation that does well in M-Sport, where, as we said, the atmosphere has been bad in recent months due to bad performances and blows of fate. All smiles team boss, Malcolm Wilson, was relieved when summarizing this first step. “It changes compared to what we have known in recent months”he explained. “It’s amazing for the team and for everyone involved. Everyone knows that we’ve been through difficult months. The performances that Séb’ and Pierre-Louis have had are amazing. I’m very happy for Pierre-Louis who made his debut. [en WRC] and who immediately followed for a second to find himself leading the meeting. However, I knew that Séb’ would launch a major offensive in Bauxites to take control.”
Loubet reached a new peak this Friday by signing his first two WRC scratches.
The second stage promises to be decisive
Indeed, Loubet suffered from various small technical errors in the final stage, with problems with the brakes but also with the power steering. It wasn’t enough to trouble the young Frenchman, who managed to get his car back safely in damage control. The quietness that attracted Wilson. “More than his performance that day, I am pleased with the way he reacted when he had problems. […]. He stayed focused and agreed to waste Sébastien’s time.”
Now it’s time for the second stage of this Acropolis Rally, the longest of the weekend and perhaps the most difficult, especially since the starting order should be poor for the M-Sport drivers, who will have to be careful to wake up to the competition, and. especially the one represented by Hyundai drivers. “Tomorrow will be a real broadcaster”warns Wilson. “Ott [Tänak] and Thierry [Neuville] they will benefit from a good position in the starting order, and they will attack a lot.” Loeb and Loubet have been warned.