After teasing a prototype version of the all-new Ford Puma Rally1 – which will replace the Ford Fiesta WRC next year – on numerous occasions, Ford finally pulled the covers off its all-new rally weapon earlier this month with a Gymkhana-style romp around the Ford Craiova Assembly Plant with M-Sport Ford WRT driver Adrien Fourmau behind the wheel. Now, fellow driver Sebastien Loeb has gotten his chance to drive the new hybrid racer, too.
M-Sport – Ford’s official World Rally Championship team – also used this occasion to announce that Sebastien Loeb is set to return for the 2022 WRC season with that very team after spending a decade competing against it. Loeb takes a few rips around the course in the new Puma Rally1 while also providing feedback on the way it drives, a valuable tool as M-Sport aims to gain a large competitive advantage next year in its first-ever hybrid racer.
This clip provides a cool look behind the scenes of what goes into dialing in a new rally car, as well as a driver working to get acclimated with both a machine and his human team. The Puma Rally1 is an all-new, from the ground-up design that aims to continue the Fiesta WRC’s success, which includes three championships since its debut in 2017. The hybrid rally racer utilizes a 3.9 kWh battery to provide boosts of up to three seconds from a 100 kW electric motor to supplement the Puma Rally1’s 1.6L EcoBoost gas engine. The Puma Rally1 is also capable of driving on electric power alone, with full recharges taking around 25 minutes. The entire hybrid system weighs a mere 95 kilograms and is housed in a ballistic-strength casing to protect it from the many perils of rally racing.
At the end of his test drive, Loeb sounds confident that all of this new tech will translate to success on the track. “I made some good progress and we’re in quite a good place with the car for sure,” he said. “There’s always stuff we can improve, so we’re working on that. But it was a pretty successful track day.”