Father and Son week: The Loubets

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Born in Corsica with a name like Loubet and a father who once wore Lancia’s famous Martini stripes, Pierre-Louis was bound to follow Yves to the stages.

Loubet Jnr. did, however, cut his competitive teeth on the track as a European Championship karter. When the move to cars didn’t work out, his career looked to have stalled.

“I was 16,” said Pierre-Louis. “I went back to school, like every normal child.”

School lasted a couple of years, but when he found funding to take to the stage, he didn’t waste a second and was straight into the World Rally Championship.

Finishing runner-up on his FIA Junior WRC debut in Portugal in 2015 was an impressive start for the young Frenchman.

Loubet Jnr’s progression through the WRC ranks was rapid. In just his second season, he set about WRC 2 in a DS 3 R5. That progression in the global series is what sets his career apart from his father Yves’.

Loubet Snr. spent his formative seasons driving an Opel Kadett on a multitude of French Championship rounds, with the odd Sanremo or Rallye Monte-Carlo thrown in. Switching to Alfa Romeo power in the early eighties helped raise Loubet’s profile and eventually landed him a seat with the Lancia works team for the 1987 Tour de Corse. Despite a lack of four-wheel drive experience, Loubet led his home WRC round for four stages and ultimately finished second.

That result was enough to make him a semi-permanent fixture in the factory squad, with an even bigger role in the Jolly Club’s plans.

Yves’ biggest season was undoubtedly 1989. He dominated the European Rally Championship at the wheel of a Grifone-run Lancia Delta Integrale. By then, this supposed Corsican Tarmac specialist had demonstrated an ability to drive on all surfaces – something he has certainly passed on to his son.

Pierre-Louis lifted last year’s WRC 2 crown and has now stepped up to drive an i20 Coupe WRC with the Hyundai Customer Racing squad.

His debut in a WRC car was exceptional, briefly leading Hyundai factory driver Dani Sordo, albeit with the Spaniard very much in testing mode, on the summer’s Rally di Roma.

A WRC debut in Estonia delivered superb times on the fast gravel but it was seventh overall at last month’s Rally Italia Sardegna where the result matched the potential.

Pierre-Louis’s famous father is always at the end of a telephone, but he’s not one for sharing his son’s limelight.

“My father stays in the background,” he said. “He prefers to support me this way [from home] and not come to rallies. I know that he can help me when I need it. I know some other fathers are coming to the events, but I think it’s better to do your job alone.”

By: WRC

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