Loubet announces surprise split with Gilsoul
By Jason Craig
Saturday 14th October, 2023 - 11:51am
M-Sport Ford driver Pierre-Louis Loubet will have a new team-mate in the WRC after parting company with Nicolas Gilsoul.
Loubet has less than a fortnight to replace the Belgian before he is back in action at the Central European Rally (October 26-29) – a brand-new addition to the competition that is spread over Germany, Austria and the Czech Republic.
He broke the news on his Facebook page on Friday afternoon, ending a partnership with Gilsoul that lasted 11 months and only 11 starts in the FIA World Rally Championship.
A campaign that promised much for the 26-year-old has so far failed to materialise, with his best performances coming in Sweden and Estonia where he recorded sixth place results, and a brace of seventh place finishes in Croatia and Kenya respectively.
He retired from January’s Rallye Monte Carlo when his Puma Rally1 developed water pump failure and fuel supply issues, and has had to fall back on the Super Rally rule on three occasions.
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His most recent appearances at Acropolis Rally Greece (mechanical) and this month’s Rally Chile (accident) also ended in disappointment.
“Our paths separate faster than expected despite our joint determination to make our collaboration a success,” Loubet wrote on Facebook.
“The experience you brought me for this first full season in the WRC will be treasured for years to come. Wish you the best for the future Nicolas Gilsoul,” he added.
Pairing the vastly experienced Gilsoul – who called the notes for Hyundai Motorsport’s Thierry Neuville prior to their split in 2020 after nine years together and thirteen World Rally wins – with Loubet was considered one way of helping to blood the young Frenchman.
At the time, Gilsoul spoke of his excitement at returning to M-Sport Ford 10 years on from representing them in a Ford Fiesta World Rally Car with Neuville and joining forces with one of the sport’s most exciting prospects.
“I am very happy to be back in the WRC, especially with a really good package, with a young promising driver, top car and world champion team-mates,” he said.
“I have been impressed by his mental strength to be able to show his speed, especially this year .”