M-Sport focus on NZ prep after “deflating” WRC Acropolis Rally

M-Sport has confirmed Sebastien Loeb won’t rejoin the Acropolis Rally given the tight turnaround to ensure its cars are prepared in time for Rally New Zealand.

M-Sport focus on NZ prep after “deflating” WRC Acropolis Rally
Listen to this article

The Ford squad appeared set to challenge for a second win of the World Rally Championship season with nine-time world champion and 2022 Monte Carlo winner Loeb leading team-mate Pierre-Louis Loubet, after the pair shared the spoils in Friday’s six stages.

However, the team’s victory and podium hopes unravelled on Saturday as four of its five cars hit trouble during the day’s six stages.

Loeb retired from the lead due to an alternator failure after Stage 8,  while Loubet dropped to seventh after suffering a front-left puncture in Stage 9.

Gus Greensmith started the day in sixth but joined the retirement list due to yet-to-be diagnosed mechanical issue that grounded his Puma on Stage 11. Moments before Greensmith’s issue, privateer runner Jourdan Serderidis was ruled out of the event with a terminal hybrid issue on the road section.

Greensmith’s demise did allow the recovering Loubet to climb to fifth overall ahead of team-mate Craig Breen, who suffered a puncture on Friday, which cost the Irishman two minutes.

Team principal Richard Millener admitted witnessing the collapse of a strong position for the team was “deflating” as the team’s run of misfortune continued.

“It is deflating what has happened to us this weekend but we remain positive and we know we can do it, and we proved that yesterday, but today was not our day,” said Millener.

“It is just disappointing for the team. I feel so sorry for the everyone who has put in so much hard work. Seb was keeping the spirits alive and we will continue.

“We are determined not to let our heads drop about anything. It is just really upsetting for everyone who has put so much effort into it and to have it taken away so cruelly after what was a fantastic stage time from Seb this morning. I think we could have had a comfortable lead to be honest.”

Sebastien Loeb, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team

Sebastien Loeb, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team

Photo by: McKlein / Motorsport Images

Millener also confirmed that entries for Loeb and Serderidis won’t return for Sunday’s final three stages to ease the pressure on the team, as it bids to prepare for Pumas next week for the trip to New Zealand (29 September-2 October).

“It is difficult for them [Seb and Jourdan] to achieve so much tomorrow. Again we have a very tight turnaround to New Zealand so the guys and girls will only have three or four days in the workshop so I think we have got to take the priority for Seb.

“Unfortunately when you can’t win the rally which is what we were trying to achieve it is not quite the same. And for Jourdan, as a privateer opening the road is tricky and he decided for three stages, and after a tough weekend, not to restart.

“The option was there for both of them, but with little to fight for it made sense to go with that.”

Read Also:
shares
comments

Related video

Tanak not expecting Neuville to move over to help WRC title bid
Previous article

Tanak not expecting Neuville to move over to help WRC title bid

Next article

WRC Acropolis Rally: Neuville closes on win as Hyundai deploys team orders

WRC Acropolis Rally: Neuville closes on win as Hyundai deploys team orders
How trailblazer Kalle Rovanpera has ripped up the WRC record book Prime

How trailblazer Kalle Rovanpera has ripped up the WRC record book

At the tender age of 22, Kalle Rovanpera is redefining what’s possible to achieve in rallying and inspiring a new legion of fans as a result. The newly-crowned World Rally Championship title-winner and his peers reflect on his ability and the start of his success in the top tier.

WRC
Nov 26, 2022
How Hyundai and Neuville gatecrashed Toyota's homecoming party Prime

How Hyundai and Neuville gatecrashed Toyota's homecoming party

Thierry Neuville signed off the 2022 World Rally Championship season with his second win of the season in Japan after Toyota rival Elfyn Evans suffered a late puncture. With Sebastien Ogier and Kalle Rovanpera also delayed by punctures and incidents, it opened the door for Neuville and Ott Tanak to record Hyundai's second 1-2 of the season in Toyota's own backyard

WRC
Nov 14, 2022
The message a WRC stalwart sent which its new king couldn’t answer Prime

The message a WRC stalwart sent which its new king couldn’t answer

Sebastien Ogier might be the outgoing World Rally champion, but it didn’t stop him reminding everyone of the skills that made him an eight-time world champion. As victory at Rally Spain led Toyota’s charge to a titles clean sweep, it did pose a question to newly-crowned champion Kalle Rovanpera which he could not answer

WRC
Oct 24, 2022
Motorsport.com gets to grips as a WRC co-driver Prime

Motorsport.com gets to grips as a WRC co-driver

The majority of headlines may focus on the exploits of drivers in the World Rally Championship, but the challenges facing their co-drivers is no less demanding. We got in the passenger seat with Toyota Gazoo Racing to find out just what it takes to succeed

WRC
Oct 6, 2022
How Rally New Zealand encapsulated record-breaking Rovanpera’s WRC title charge Prime

How Rally New Zealand encapsulated record-breaking Rovanpera’s WRC title charge

Kalle Rovanpera’s coronation as the new World Rally Championship king had been a long time coming, only to be postponed by hiccups in Belgium and Greece. But at Rally New Zealand the “Full Send” Finn demonstrated exactly how he's been able to rewrite the rallying record book as he stormed to victory to become the youngest ever world champion

WRC
Oct 3, 2022
How team orders could make Hyundai's historic Acropolis Rally a Greek tragedy Prime

How team orders could make Hyundai's historic Acropolis Rally a Greek tragedy

Thierry Neuville led a maiden Hyundai 1-2-3 in the World Rally Championship, as the previously soft i20 N became a battle-hardened Greek warrior at the Acropolis Rally. But with team orders in play between the winner and Hyundai’s title protagonist Ott Tanak, could the result come back to haunt the team?

WRC
Sep 12, 2022
How Tanak triumphed amid a series of Belgium WRC blunders Prime

How Tanak triumphed amid a series of Belgium WRC blunders

After runaway World Rally Championship leader Kalle Rovanpera made his first major mistake of the season, the chance to take advantage was wide open for the chasing pack. Several of his rivals faltered to grasp the opportunity, but Ott Tanak made no such mistake and demonstrated his class with a third win of the campaign

WRC
Aug 22, 2022
Inside Toyota’s new WRC dream factory where rally conquerers come to life Prime

Inside Toyota’s new WRC dream factory where rally conquerers come to life

Toyota locked out the top four places in the World Rally Championship's recent Safari Rally Kenya in a clear indication of its GR Yaris Rally1 hybrid's pace and durability. Motorsport.com was recently given a tour of the new factory where its cars are designed, tested and built, and it reveals much about the commitment of the Japanese marque to continued WRC success.

WRC
Aug 19, 2022