9-time world champion Sebastien Loeb joined the staff to contest 4 WRC occasions final 12 months to assist enhance the squad’s championship hopes.
The transfer proved profitable with Loeb and co-driver Isabelle Galmiche profitable the 2022 season opener in Monte Carlo. The pair additionally led in Portugal earlier than a crash halted their progress, whereas mechanical points robbed them of an opportunity to problem for a podium in Kenya and Greece.
Loeb featured amongst an expanded M-Sport line-up final 12 months that included three full-time entries and as many as 5 Pumas at chosen occasions.
Nonetheless, this 12 months the staff has elected to cut back its efforts to two-full-time WRC entries for Ott Tanak and Pierre-Louis Loubet, with privateer Jourdan Serderidis contesting outings in Monte Carlo, Mexico, Sardinia and Kenya.
M-Sport has’t dominated out the prospect of a Loeb return however has indicated it’s not a high precedence at this level within the season.
“Definitely if we do use anybody else, it is going to be later within the season after we probably we have to take factors off our conceptions,” staff principal Richard Millener advised Autosport when requested in regards to the probability of a Loeb return.
“However in the intervening time all the sources are going into Ott to make issues pretty much as good as doable for him.”
New signing Tanak has loved a robust begin to his second spell on the Ford squad headlined by a victory in Sweden in February. The 2019 world champion is but to totally gel with the Ford Puma, although, which led the Estonian stating that he and the automotive had been a “mismatch” in Mexico, the place he recovered from a turbo failure to complete ninth.
WRC Mexico: The Good, the Bad and a legend at his peak
Reflecting on Tanak’s Mexico frustrations, Millener says improvement is ongoing behind the scenes, however believes it is going to be a matter of tweaking the automotive all year long to search out the candy spot.
Ott Tänak, M-Sport Ford World Rally Group
Photograph by: M-Sport
“I don’t assume he’s tremendous uncomfortable however there are some situations that he doesn’t really feel completely assured in,” he added.
“The difficult factor for us is there’s solely restricted date we will get from occasions and restricted knowledge we’re allowed to document.
“Growth is ongoing however it takes time and it isn’t one thing we will change in a single day and finally it’s exhausting for us when the automotive remains to be setting succesful instances. The powerstage was one of many hardest of the rally and we had been very near getting an general victory on that and for many of the weekend we had been doing near quickest instances.
“There may be positively some stuff he desires modified to make him extra snug and we’re engaged on that. However the base of the automotive appears to be not too dangerous as he wouldn’t be posting the instances he’s doing.
“I don’t assume there’s a set endpoint and I feel it is going to be a case of tweaking during the 12 months as a result of each rally you go to you get completely different situations. He’s nonetheless studying the ins and outs of the automotive and we’re engaged on the suggestions he’s giving us.
“In some methods it may appear from the surface that it’s large issues however realistically it’s tweaking of what we have already got. There is no such thing as a simple large repair however we’ve simply received to maintain engaged on it.”
Tanak is ready for extra seat time behind the wheel of the Puma earlier than the WRC heads to Croatia subsequent month, with an outing at Rally Ardennes from 31 March to 1 April.