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Motorsport

Loeb discussing more WRC 2022 outings with M-Sport

The nine-time world champion made to the return to the championship this year after striking a one-off deal with M-Sport that resulted in the Frenchman scoring  a his 80th career win in Monte Carlo in January.

Loeb rejoined the Ford squad last weekend for another outing at Rally Portugal that ultimately ended in disappointment after crashing out of the lead following a rare driver error on Stage 5. A suspected turbo charger issue forced Loeb to exit the rally completely last Saturday.

However, the 48-year-old, who has commitments in Extreme E and the World Rally Raid Championship with Prodrive, is keen to contest more WRC rallies this season, although a deal is yet to be reached. 

“It [my WRC plans for the rest of the year] is not decided, we are speaking about maybe doing another one or two but at the moment nothing is confirmed,” said Loeb in Portugal. 

Reflecting on a disappointing Portugal weekend, he added: “For sure I can’t be too happy about my weekend, it was already finished on Saturday morning so it wasn’t what we expected. 

"Yesterday [Friday] I made a mistake, on Saturday we broke the turbo, so it’s not great. But on the other side, we saw at the beginning of the rally that the car is good, and it’s fast, we were leading the rally after four stages, so that was a very good start. I hope there will be another chance to try this car later this year.”

M-Sport boss Malcolm Wilson remains hopeful an agreement to put Loeb back in a WRC Ford Puma again this season will be forthcoming.    

“I hope so but there is nothing confirmed,” Wilson told Autosport/Motorsport.com. 

“I certainly hope we can find a way to do at least two more with him. His programme is not easy with everything else he is doing with Extreme E and Cross Country, but put this way that is the target.”   

At this stage Loeb only has one potential clash with the FIA World Rally-Raid Andalucia Rally clashing with WRC's next round in Sardinia in June.

Loeb has hinted that a tilt at the Safari Rally (23-26 June) could be tempting. The event will also feature long-time rival Sebastien Ogier, with the eight-time world champion’s entry into the event confirmed by Toyota on Monday.

Ogier won last year’s Safari Rally following its return to the WRC calendar after a 19-year hiatus.