M-Sport Ford will enter five Ford Puma Rally1 cars in the fourth round of this year’s World Rally Championship, including the winners of the 2022 Monte Carlo Rally – Sebastien Loeb and Isabelle Galmiche.
The highly anticipated event celebrates the 50th anniversary of WRC, and the Rally Portugal was one of the rounds of the World Cup’s inaugural season. As the anniversary is celebrated, the Cumbria team will also add another chapter to the series’ history, with the first team displaying a whopping five teams in the new era of Rally1 hybrid.
In Rally Portugal, which has a reputation for being particularly tough and demanding on both participants and cars, M-Sport won in 2017 and took the double podium the following season.
Loeb won this event twice, in the 2007 and 2009 editions. He was second on the podium in the 2010 and 2011 seasons.
“First impressions of driving the Puma on the gravel during our testing were pretty good,” said Sebastien Loeb. – I was happy with the feeling as we worked on the suspension and differential settings. A day of testing isn’t much the first time you ride on gravel, but in the end I was satisfied.
“My goal will be to find a rhythm as soon as possible, I hope I can get a good pace to fight in the lead, and if I can get close to the podium it will be a great result,” he added ready. – The challenge in Rally Portugal will be to finish fourth on the route and cleaning the roads is always a handicap in this type of competition when it is dry. I don’t know what to expect there, so we have to drive well the first day, and for the rest we’ll see where we end up.
Pumach will also be: Craig Breen / Paul Nagle, Gus Greensmith / Jonas Andersson, Adrien Fourmaux / Alexander Coria, Pierre-Louis Loubet / Vincent Landais.
– Looking forward to Portugal, this is a rally I haven’t taken part in for a number of years, the last time probably in 2018 – said Craig Breen. – The first three events this year have been special in their own way, so I’m looking forward to seeing what pace Puma will have in Portugal. The tests were successful, I felt good in the car and we did a great job. Now I’m waiting to discover the rally, there are a lot of new stages and there have been some changes since last time, so it’s going to be interesting. I would like to get a better speed compared to what we showed in Croatia, so we will work as hard as possible to make it work.
– Portugal Rally is my favorite and the first in which I participated abroad. I have many fond memories of this event. My seventh start here is ahead of me, so I have a lot of experience – said Gus Greensmith. – I feel I am in the right place and at the right time with the car, the pilot and everything else. There’s no pressure this weekend as I’m not scoring points for the manufacturer’s standings, so I just want to have fun.
– This will be my second start in Portugal. I felt good here in the WRC car last year, so I can’t wait to get in the Puma and see how it goes. It’s a really fun party, the crowd is great and the atmosphere is fantastic,” said Adrien Fourmaux. – I look forward to all the upcoming grind events, and there will be quite a few.
Portugal has always been my favorite rally in the past and this is where I got some of my best results. It was my first rally in a world championship that I competed in when I was only 18 years old, so I’m looking forward to starting and hopefully it will be our second strong event this season,” said Pierre-Louis Loubet. – In Croatia we were satisfied with our pace and we hope that by going at the same speed here and not catching slippers, we will get a good result.
In Portugal there will also be a third round match of Junior WRC, in which seven duos will race in Fiestas Rally3 prepared by M-Sport Polska.