M-Sport Ford is about to take the stage after Friday’s big Rally Greece. Up to 368 kilowatts (500 hp) of power Ford Puma Hybrid Rally1 sets all special stages with the best times on the first leg of the 10th round of this year’s World Rally Championship. World record champion Sébastien Loeb and young talent Pierre Louis Loubet fought an exciting battle for the lead on the first day of »Acropolis«. Loubet finishes fourth ahead of teammate Craig Breen; Breen and Gus Greensmith earned additional WM points on the final “Power Stage”. Photo: Ford Werke GmbH, M Sport Ford
M #Sport #Ford is about to hit the podium after a big Friday at Rally Greece
Cologne, September 12, 2022
- The Ford Puma Hybrid Rally1 with up to 368 kilowatts (500 hp) set the best times on the special stage on the first stage of the 10th round of this year’s World Rally Championship.
- World record champion Sébastien Loeb and young talent Pierre Louis Loubet fought an exciting battle for the lead on the first day of »Acropolis«
- Loubet finishes 4th ahead of teammate Craig Breen; Breen and Gus Greensmith score additional World Championship points in the final »Power Stage«
After a strong start on Stage 1, the factory-backed M #Sport #Ford team narrowly missed out on the podium at the Acropolis Rally Greece. Young star Pierre-Louis Loubet finished the gravel event destroying material with co-driver Vincent Landais in 4th, Craig Breen and Paul Nagle were 5th but gave up early.
After a spectator test in front of 60,000 enthusiastic fans at the #Olympic Stadium in Athens on Thursday evening, the nine-time champion went the next morning as a fire brigade. Also benefiting from his late starting position, Loeb and co-driver Isabelle Galmiche immediately led with the fastest time on the »Loutraki« stage. With two best times, the French duo were able to extend their lead. Pierre Louis Loubet emerged as the strongest supporter. The young Corsican won his first two special stages (SS) at #WM level in the afternoon and even took the lead from his childhood hero by 1.9 seconds. Only with his fourth best time of the day did Loeb set the conditions on the final special stage. However, this also meant that all of Friday’s special stage wins went to the Ford Puma Hybrid Rally1 with up to 368 kilowatts (500 hp).
On Saturday, the toughest challenge of the tenth round of the season’s World Rally Championship was in the heat program: 33.2 km »Pyrgos«. Loeb flew through the light barrier as the second fastest. He regained the overall lead he had briefly lost, this time with a 19-second lead over the runner-up. But then there was a problem with the alternator. Loeb and Galmiche were able to solve it in the connecting step to the next special step, but they did not manage to control the future within the existing waiting time. With that they were – rallying can be brutal – out of the standings.
Fate also overtook Loubet: A puncture on SS 9 cost him more than a minute and put him in direct contact with the front runners. By the end of Saturday he had worked his way back up to fifth place. His teammate Craig Breen had already been slowed down on the first stage by heavy clouds of dust on the track, until he too had to change a wheel. The next day, the Irishman was undeterred by this bad luck and repeatedly drove 5 times with his Puma Hybrid Rally1. By the end of the night he had improved from eleventh place to sixth place.
Gus Greensmith and Jonas Andersson – still slowing down from their original starting position on Friday – had already secured two places on the second leg and the afternoon service. However, engine trouble on the 11th special stage heralded an early career end for the Brit and fellow Swedish driver. However, the M Sport Ford team managed to get the car moving again in time for Sunday’s restart.
So the task of the final stage was clear: get the Puma Hybrid Rally1 of Loubet, Breen and Greensmith safely to the finish line and also win important additional World Championship points in the final »Power Stage«. The plan worked. Breen set the third fastest time and Greensmith set the fourth fastest time. As a reward, there were three and once an additional counter of the World Cup.
“Our team does not give up, as the first stage of the Acropolis Rally Greece showed,” emphasizes M Sport #team boss Richard Millener. “We have shown that we are fully capable of fighting for the top positions with the Ford Puma Hybrid Rally1. Sébastien Loeb is fantastic and Pierre-Louis Loubet was the star of this event. Craig Breen and Gus Greensmith also gave strong performances. Although we were denied the result we wanted, it was a very difficult meeting for all participants.”
Pierre Louis Loubet and Vincent Landais (Ford Puma Hybrid Rally1, start number 7), 4th place, 12th World Championship
‘What a weekend! My first best time on a special podium and my first World Championship lead – I still need to reflect on what happened on Friday, which may take a few days,” laughs 25-year-old Loubet. “Of course, being burnt on Friday is a shame , but I will never forget cheating Sébastien Loeb in the first place. Even as a little boy on the side of the track I admired him. I think it’s a great opportunity to ride with him in the same team.”
Craig Breen and Paul Nagle (Ford Puma Hybrid Rally1, start number 42, 5th place, 6th place in the World Championship.
“It started to be difficult for us on Friday, but we were able to fight on Saturday and make people sit down and take care with a good result of special measures,” said Craig Breen, 32. “We can live with the final result. , three extra Championship points of the World on the ›Power Stage‹ is a nice bonus. The #public meeting was new for me, we have learned a lot for next year.”
Gus Greensmith and Jonas Andersson (Ford Puma Hybrid Rally1, car number 44), 29th result, World Championship 9th place
“The environment at the #Greece Rally is a tough challenge, so I’m more than happy with our good podium times on Saturday morning,” explains 25-year-old Gus Greensmith. »I had found a good rhythm and was able to enjoy it a lot. It’s a shame that the second stage ended early for us. And many thanks to the technicians for fixing the car on time. The effort was worth an extra step on the ›Strength Action‹. Now I’m looking forward to the next round of the World Championship in New Zealand!«
Sébastien Loeb and Isabelle Galmiche (Ford Puma Hybrid Rally1, start number 19), failed to finish, 10th place in the World Championship.
“We were very strong on Friday. I was very happy to be back in the Ford Puma Hybrid Rally1,” said Sébastien Loeb, aged 48. “I haven’t driven in Rally Greece for a long time, which makes it even better that we were able to set fast times again one. The songs were very difficult at times, but I really enjoyed the challenge. It’s a shame we couldn’t drive to the end. The fight with Pierre Louis Loubet was #fun, he can be proud of himself. I hope to have another meeting with #car in the future.”
Ford works GmbH
Ford Werke GmbH is a German automobile manufacturer and mobility services provider based in Cologne. The company employs approximately 19,800 people at its locations in Cologne, Saarlouis and Aachen. Since its inception in 1925, Ford plants have produced more than 47 million vehicles.