Loubet replaces co-driver ahead of Central European Rally

Loubet replaces co-driver ahead of Central European Rally

Pierre-Louis Loubet has selected Benjamin Veillas, a former co-driver for Sébastien Ogier to take the place of Nicolas Gilsoul beginning with the Central European Rally next weekend.

In an ironic twist, Vincent Landais left Loubet to take Veillas’ spot as Ogier’s co-driver at Toyota, so Loubet and Gilsoul paired up at the lead of the 2023 World Rally Championship.

Following a successful 2022 season in which Loubet restored his reputation after a terrible 2021 campaign, the Frenchman’s first full-time campaign with M-Sport Ford has been a difficult one so far. Mechanical problems and driving errors have left him 11th in the championship with a top finish of sixth.

Loubet announced last week that he and Gilsoul, a 13-time WRC winner partnered with Thierry Neuville, were parting ways. According to reports this came following a spectacular incident during Rally Chile when there was some sort of in-car miscommunication.

Loubet refused to discuss the reasons for the breakup with Gilsoul in an interview with Racetrackmasters after a successful first test with Veillas, although he did state that it was impossible for the partnership to keep going.

“It’s not something that I wanted but it is like it is, so now we need to do it.,” Loubet said. “Anyway it’s been difficult for me.

“I did a good year in 2022 to change a co-driver, so it’s never easy, it’s never something we would like to do.

“For every driver it creates a bit of instability, but it was for me impossible to continue.

“For the rally it will be the first with Benjamin so [I’ll] try just to build the confidence and to just try to do a normal rally.

“Since the beginning of the year it’s been a bit tough from that but let’s see.”

Loubet has fair hopes for Central European Rally given that he is adjusting to a new co-driver.

“Honestly after the route that we take, after a difficult season, with a new co-driver, I will just try to do a good rally but in terms of position it’s not the time,” he added. “I think in Chile we started to go for it as the pace was there, we were leading the stage before the crash but it didn’t work out.

“I will say nothing about results, it’s just to go through, get back the confidence and try to build for the future.”

Since parting ways with Ogier one year ago after their joint performance at the Rally Spain, Veillas has started three rallies this year with all happening in France.

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